At the US-China Business Council’s (USCBC) 39th Annual Membership Meeting in Washington, DC, a strong cast of speakers addressed key topics for member companies, including China’s economic slowdown, top operating challenges, the PRC leadership transition, and the US presidential election campaign.
This year, the Rhodium Group’s founding partner and Columbia University adjunct associate professor Daniel Rosen opened the meeting with an economic update for the more than 100 attendees at the Madison Hotel on June 5.
Rosen noted the strength and potential in China’s rising household consumption and the important role both central and local governments play in balancing its import/export ratio, keeping government expenditures efficient, and facilitating day-to-day business. As the Chinese economy matures, the country’s initial phase of rapid growth and profit is paving the way for a second wave of opportunities. “We are going through an ostensibly controlled slow down, a soft landing strategy in the People’s Republic of China,” Rosen said. Still, he expects the Chinese economy to grow at a rate of around 9 percent in 2012.
USCBC’s Shanghai Chief Representative Julie Walton presented an on-the-ground view of business operations in China. Although USCBC member companies have felt the rising costs of doing business in China, she also noted there are tremendous opportunities for companies moving westward in China. If global companies are looking to stay long-term in China and develop in these areas, government cooperation will be crucial. “Companies are telling us that managing these local governments closely is increasingly necessary,” Walton said.
Grant Aldonas, former undersecretary of commerce under the Bush administration, who is now advising Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, discussed how a Romney administration may approach the US-China commercial relationship. Both he and the Brookings Institution’s Jeffrey Bader, who was formerly the National Security Council’s principal advisor on Asia to President Barack Obama, discussed how this year’s presidential elections might impact US-China relations for the next four years.
Cheng Li of the Brookings Institution, an expert on Chinese leadership politics, updated USCBC members on China’s leadership transition and offered an analysis of the downfall of Chongqing Party Secretary Bo Xilai this past March.