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US asked to drop barriers against Chinese firms
Date: 2011/7/18 Click: 1926
The top official from one of China's most affluent provinces asked the United States to pull down trade barriers against Chinese high-tech companies during the first forum between US governors and Chinese provincial leaders.

Zhao Hongzhu, Party secretary of Zhejiang province who led the Chinese delegation of officials, also called for the establishment of free trade and a more open investment environment on Friday after a flurry of deals were signed this week between leaders from both sides at the China-US Governors Forum.

On Thursday, at least 20 deals were inked between local governments of China and the US.

During the forum, which ended Saturday and is the most expansive diplomatic effort between US governors and Chinese officials, leaders discussed trade, investment, education exchanges, green energy and environmental protection.

Zhao said there is a trade imbalance between his province and the US, partly because of US export controls on high-tech products to China.

"To strike a more balanced local trade relationship, we should adopt some comprehensive measures to promote free trade and investment as well as fight against protectionism and the export control," he said.

He called for local governments in both countries to be fair to foreign investors in accordance with the laws and enhance transparency.

"So far, Zhejiang has set up several national-level economies and trade cooperation zones in Russia, Thailand and Vietnam and we hope our province can build such platforms in the United States," Zhao said.

The East China coastal province boasts one of the most dynamic private economies in the country and a strong export and import industry.

He said its 2010 export volume was $180.5 billion, nearly one-tenth of China's export output. The US is the largest export destination for Zhejiang and the third largest import country.

The US is also the top overseas investment destination for Zhejiang companies. More than 700 companies from the province have established offices in the US, such as auto parts maker Wanxiang Group, which has over 5,000 US employees and more than $2 billion in sales last year.

Zhao's worries are shared by many Chinese officials and experts. They stem from the failed attempts by several Chinese companies last year to invest in the US or acquire companies based in the US. In several cases, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US (CFIUS) pushed to stop the investment attempts due to national security concerns. Chinese investors and government officials said they have grown more concerned about the business environment in the US because of the fruitless investment attempts.

Zhang Yesui, the Chinese ambassador to the US, urged US governors at the forum's Thursday reception to promote trade, investment, energy and the environment at the state-provincial level.

In the past 10 years, 47 states in the US saw their exports to China triple and the value of exports from 24 states to China surpassed $1 billion.

"This is demonstrating there is great potential in sub-nation cooperation," he said. "It is a new engine in promoting comprehensive relationship between China and the US."

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad said he saw a lot of business potential with the Chinese officials. He said he first went to China in 1984 to visit Hebei province, Iowa's sister province. Since then, Iowa has established close trade ties with China.

"China is now importing a lot of soybeans and corn from Iowa, and we are also doing agriculture research in China. One of our local agriculture equipment makers just opened a plant in China. We see a lot of opportunities in trade," he said.
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