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November 25, 2019
Business, which has been the "ballast" of the U.S.-China relationship for years, is more important than ever before, President of the U.S.-China Business Council Craig Allen said Thursday.
Allen, who received the Outstanding Achievement Award in U.S.-China Relations from the U.S.-China Policy Foundation at the annual gala dinner Thursday night, said the role of business is more important than ever before in ensuring that the world's two largest trading nations "find a way to manage differences and maintain stability".
"Now is time to increase ballast to maximize stability, maintain forward progress and avert possible disaster," said Allen at the event held at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC.
"We need more bilateral trade. We need more bilateral investment," noted Allen, who served as a commercial attache at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing in the 1990s and later as deputy assistant secretary for China at the U.S. Commerce Department's International Trade Administration.
Currently, 2.4 million Americans work on U.S.-China trade. Approximately one million are in export industries. Another one million are in import industries, and about 400,000 are employed in Chinese-invested companies in the United States, he said, noting that "each of these jobs is a good reason to defend the bilateral economic relationship".
"Moreover, it is reasonable to expect China will continue to be the most important engine for global economic growth for the next 10 years," said Allen, whose organization represents more than 200 U.S. companies that do business with China.
"Therefore, American companies want to and need to be in China. They aren't going to leave China."
Noting that China is "liberalizing its economy and integrating globally at a rapid pace," the U.S. business leader said if American companies are not present in China, others will "gladly take our place at our expense."
Allen highlighted the recently released World Bank's ease of doing business study, which promoted China from 46 to 31 in its global ranking.
"This is excellent news, but American companies are not benefiting from the improved business environment due to tariffs and counter tariffs" stemming from the U.S.-China trade tensions, he said.
"The long-term interests of the United States and China are both aligned. We share a very small planet, and we face many common global challenges," Allen said. "For the good of our children and grandchildren, I hope both sides can do a better job of managing this relationship — and calm the troubled waters."