Dr. William Yu, a senior economist with the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Anderson Forecast, speaks at a trade seminar in Los Angeles, the United States, Sept. 5, 2018. (Xinhua/Li Ying)
by Julia Pierrepont III
LOS ANGELES, Sept. 6 (Xinhua) -- Dozens of concerned business leaders have gathered here to attend a trade seminar aimed at shining a light in the long economic shadow cast by the China-U.S. trade frictions.
"When Washington leadership is so uncertain, we need to work together to create our own bridges," Pin Tai, President and CEO of Cathay Bank -- one of the co-hosts of the seminar held Wednesday -- told Xinhua.
In his keynote speech, Dr. William Yu, a senior economist with the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Anderson Forecast, delved into the current state of affairs in China-U.S. trade, a topic much on the minds of his listeners.
UCLA Anderson Forecast is the leading source of economic analysis for business, government and the academic community and applies its expert economic modeling and analytic techniques to a wide-variety of projects.
Yu ran through the laundry-list of issues that sparked the frictions, including the trade deficit, tariff and non-tariff trade barriers, China's domestic markets, intellectual property issues, and China's industrial policies. He counseled for a fair, negotiated approach to resolving these issues.
"For the American people, I would say you probably need to prepare -- there will be bit higher prices in terms of consumer goods made in China. Eventually, maybe more of them will be made in other countries like Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, but in a short run you will see a higher price tag," he warned.
"For small businesses, if you are doing import-export, you really need to have a backup plan on how to adjust your supply chain," he added.
Participants agreed that tariffs are a double-edged sword since, in this age of globalization, many U.S. business supply chains rely heavily on other countries' raw materials and labor to source and manufacture their own products, particularly China's.
In California, the tariffs are reducing export and consumption of key U.S. commodities, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, grain, wine -- all major exports for California and the U.S. Midwest.
There were concerns among the business owners and bankers who attended, whose businesses will feel the brunt of the trade frictions.
The two sponsoring entities of the seminar, China General Chamber of Commerce (CGCC) and Cathay Bank, are leaders in servicing the Chinese American business communities and fostering business ties between the United States and China.
CGCC is touted as the largest and most influential non-profit organization representing Chinese enterprises in the United States. Its 1,500 members share a focus on renewable energy, trade, finance, real estate and aerospace, and include 54 companies ranked on the 2018 Fortune Global 500 list.
Their website reports that CGCC Chinese member companies are collectively responsible for 120 billion U.S. dollars in investments and employ more than 200,000 people directly.
Zhang Xuming, chairman of CGCC-Los Angeles, said: "Healthy trade between the U.S. and China is essential to the economic well-being of both countries. That is certain."
CGCC's mission is to generate economic growth, create value, and enhance cooperation between U.S. and Chinese businesses, so Zhang views the trade dispute as a troubling development that will only unravel the enhanced levels of international cooperation his organization has worked so hard to foster.
"China and the United States need to be friends," concurred Tai. "Global stability and economic prosperity depend on it."
The bank Tai heads up was founded in Los Angeles in 1962 and expanded its network throughout California, Massachusetts, New York, Texas, Washington, Illinois, New Jersey, Nevada, Maryland, and Hong Kong, with representative offices in Shanghai and Taipei.
The oldest operating Chinese American bank in the United States, now a subsidiary of Cathay General Bancorp, Cathay Bank has a long history of servicing the Chinese American community. Its rapid expansion was fueled by successive waves of immigration, burgeoning trade between America and Asia, and the economic development of the surrounding community.
At the seminar, representatives of Cathay Bank's various departments advised their clients that they could help them to navigate the rocky shoals of disruptive tariffs and soften the blow to their businesses. Their CEO lobbied hard for a sensible and timely resolution of the trade frictions.
"Globalization has tied the economies of our two countries more closely together than ever before, resulting in almost 600 billion dollars in U.S.-China trade annually," said Tai, adding that trade frictions, however, seek to buck the prevailing trend of globalization.
He cautioned that history has shown that trade disputes result in losses for both sides. "This trade dispute will slow down the economic development of both countries."
"The tariff increases the cost of enterprise and loss of American consumers. No one wants to see the escalation of the trade dispute between China and the United States," he concluded.