Spotlight: Business leaders, officials yearn for bright prospects for China-U.S. trade ties at LA forum

Source: Xinhua| 2018-12-06 22:11:54|Editor: mmm
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by Julia Pierrepont III, Gao Shan

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 6 (Xinhua) -- More than 100 business leaders and officials gathered here on Wednesday at a trade forum, calling for bright prospects for the China-U.S. trade relations.

The forum, co-sponsored by the LA Area Chamber of Commerce and the Consulate General of China, is held under the theme of "China-U.S. trade relations: Past, Current and Future."

Many of the panelists expressed cautious optimism after Chinese President Xi Jinping reached consensus with his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump on the economic and trade issues at a dinner meeting in Argentina.

"I'm glad Trump and President Xi had a lengthy, positive meeting," said Panorea Avdis, director of California Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development.

"But just postponing the tariffs by 90 days doesn't provide the clarity our firms need. Our goal must be to provide certainty and structured goalposts so our private sector partners can make their long-term plans," she said.

She stressed that California's unique importance to the U.S. national economy will enable "the stakeholders in this room today" to lead the way.

"When one third of U.S. and China trade flows through the LA customs district, when more than half of the cargo at Port of LA, and two-thirds at Port of Long Beach, flows to or from China, it's clear that we have to weigh in on the decisions being made at the national level," she urged.

"Looking ahead, though the journey in front of the China-U.S. economic and trade relations may still be bumpy, we have great confidence that, with the further economic development and greater measures of reform and opening up in China, and with the joint effort on both sides, the relationship has great potential for development with bright prospects," said Zhang Ping, consul general of China in Los Angeles, in his remarks.

He also pointed out that bilateral trade between the United States and China had risen from 2.45 billion U.S. dollars in 1979 to over 500 billion dollars in 2017.

The stock of Chinese direct investment in the United States rose to 67 billion U.S. dollars in 2017. China has become one of the top five export markets for the goods of 46 U.S. states and the services of all 50 states.

He spoke of the "good times and bad times" over the last 40 years and noted that most of the time, "we managed to overcome the difficulties and find acceptable solutions to both sides."

Mickey Kantor, former secretary of commerce and trade representative said: "The U.S. and China need to realize we are the 'Duopoly' of the world. We don't need to think alike, but we do need to walk together."

Both the United States and Chinese panelists remain opposed to the tariffs.

"Tariffs cause uncertainty and instability. And that causes a chilling effect on business expansion and innovation. It's bad for America," Kantor warned.

Noting that we now live in an interconnected world, Susie Armstrong, senior vice president at Qualcomm, said "you can't build a cellphone in one country anymore ... it's impossible to put a tariff on one without hurting all the others."

"One of my priorities is ensuring that we are promoting good relationships with partners like China and others in the Pacific Rim and Mexico as well," Maria Salinas, president and CEO of Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, said, adding that she is optimistic about the future of U.S. -China trade relations.