A voice that should not be ignored

What do the American enterprises in China think about Sino-US economic and trade relations? Perhaps the annual White Paper on American Businesses in China issued by the American Chamber of Commerce in China has something to say.

The paper shows that almost all the US companies polled, highlight the importance of US-China commercial relations and are optimistic about their prospects in China, most regarding China as top priority for investment and have thus provided tempting offers for their entry into the Chinese market.

Have the US firms seized the opportunities? The white paper gives a less positive result. The white paper criticized the US government for its outdated export control policy and cumbersome visa application procedures that have rejected businessmen from the Chinese market and driven Chinese customers to other competitors.

We could say that it is not the first time the American Chamber of Commerce in China have expressed such dissatisfaction. Previous reports have had similar complaints, however, this year there have clearly been more objections. The changes reflect some difficulties faced by the American companies operating in China.

According to the white paper, US firms' conditions for profit were not optimistic in 2005. Though 64% of the respondents made a profit, 9% of companies had either made a loss or broken even, and this amounted to a third of the total American investors in China.

The white paper believes that it is the fierce market competition and misguided policies that have weakened American enterprises' competitive advantage.

High-tech products and related services are one of the most important exports in the US whilst the rapid growth in China means that is in desperate need for these products. For American companies, such needs undoubtedly provide a great opportunity for them.

However, as the white paper has pointed out, among all China's major trade partners, the US export control is the toughest.

According to regulations, American enterprises have to apply for licenses for exporting products to China and procedures are quite strict. High-tech exports to China must have a designated end-user, such that these lengthy procedures often drive Chinese customers away to other competitors.

Even though the US is the most developed country, it should not monopolize all high-tech products. The time-consuming and sometimes humiliating visa process may have frightened many Chinese customers away.

Good economic relations are fundamentally important for maintaining stable and long-term relations between the two countries. The US export control policies not only act as barriers for American firms in China, but may also be damaging to long-term China-US relations.

In recent years, despite US accusations of China's exchange rate being to blame for the bilateral trade showed imbalance, the US has hardly considered China's proposal for lifting the control on high-tech exports to China to remedy the trade-deficit.

Realizing now that US investors have suffered from the trade-deficit, it is unfortunate that their objections were not better dealt with by the US government.

The eighth white paper obviously wants the US government to understand that high-tech does not mean confidentiality. The US enterprises have suffered due to government's policy control.

The US government should neither ignore China's appeal, nor its own people's.

Enterprises cannot always pay for government's policy failure since good opportunities are not always available. What do US politicians who have criticized China think about the criticisms from their own citizens?

By People's Daily Online



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