U.S. business group worries Trump unprepared for
commercial talks with China
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[October 31, 2017]
By Michael Martina
BEIJING (Reuters) - A top U.S. business
lobby in China said on Tuesday it was concerned U.S. President Donald
Trump's administration was not making sufficient preparation for talks
on imbalances in the bilateral economic relationship ahead of his
Little advance work has been done for the visit, said William Zarit,
chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in China. He was referring
to meetings by working level officials to negotiate outcomes on
commercial issues for Trump's meeting with his Chinese counterpart Xi
"From what I understand, there really hasn't been much of that for this
visit, which makes us a bit concerned that there may not be much
discussion on the structural issues," Zarit told reporters in Beijing.
U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross will bring a business delegation to
Beijing during Trump's visit. Some in the U.S. business community are
worried that deals announced on the trip could distract from solutions
to long-standing complaints over discriminatory Chinese policies and
market access restrictions.
Zarit said he hoped proposed deals from the business delegation "do not
overshadow the real need for structural changes in the economic
Trump, who will stop in five Asian countries on his first visit to the
region as president, will arrive in Beijing on Nov. 8.
U.S. officials were "still waiting" for a Chinese response to issues
raised during the U.S.-China Comprehensive Economic Dialogue in July,
Zarit said, though he did not give specifics.
He called Chinese officials "master negotiators" and said the U.S.
government and business community had long suffered from a less
strategic view of the economic relationship.
"And I think there is no exception with this administration," Zarit
He added that it was "not unreasonable" to expect more progress 10
months into Trump's presidency.
Ross, has said the United States will be looking for "immediate results"
and "tangible agreements" during Trump's visit, but has acknowledged
that market access, intellectual property rights, and tariffs are more
complex and will take a longer time to negotiate.
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U.S. President Donald Trump listens during a briefing on hurricane
Harvey recovery efforts in Dallas, Texas, U.S, October 25, 2017.
REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo
Washington and Beijing launched a 100-day economic plan during Trump's first
meeting with Xi in April, including some industry-specific announcements, such
as the resumption of American beef sales in China. But U.S. business groups have
expressed disappointment over the extent of the outcomes.
XI VOWS REFORMS
Xi vowed on Monday that China would take more measures to open up the economy.
He made the remarks at a meeting with members of an advisory board to Tsinghua
University's School of Economics and Management, including Apple Inc <AAPL.O>
chief executive Tim Cook and Facebook Inc's <FB.O> Mark Zuckerberg.
China will make joint efforts with the United States to "take each other's
interests and concerns into consideration, resolve disputes and contradictions,
and engage in win-win cooperation", Xi said according to the official China
But such frequently made pledges have done little to assuage foreign companies'
concerns over ownership caps in key sectors, such as autos, securities,
insurance, and information technology.
U.S. business lobbies argue that their members are restricted in those
industries while Chinese companies operate freely in the U.S. market. They have
also criticized Beijing's "Made in China 2025" plan, which offers government
backing for sectors the Chinese government deems strategic.
Particularly galling to foreign tech firms are a slate of new national security
and cyber security regulations that mandate companies store crucial data within
China and pass security reviews they argue could put business secrets at risk.
"Basically, when we look at that, what it boils down to for us is it's a company
competing against a country," Zarit said.
(Reporting by Michael Martina; Editing by Bill Tarrant)
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