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Washington Urged To 'Use Every Arrow' Against China By U.S. Business Group

Washington Urged To 'Use Every Arrow' Against China By U.S. Business Group
Warning that 2017 could be the toughest year in decades for American firms in the country, a U.S. business lobby said on Tuesday that in order to ensure a level commercial playing field in China, the United States should "use every arrow" in its quiver.
The American Chamber of Commerce in China said in its annual business climate report that the space for foreign companies has been narrowed by China's policies designed to support domestic companies and create national champions.
A 100-day plan to cut the U.S. trade deficit with China, which reached $347 billion last year was pledged during their meeting between Donald Trump and Xi Jinping and the White House has said U.S and Chinese officials are fleshing out form to the pledge.
But more attention would be paid to market access for American firms in China, the chamber said it hoped.
"Right now basically we are recommending everything you have in your quiver - please use every arrow possible, with the understanding that some of these points of leverage could be counterproductive to us," chamber chairman William Zarit said, referring to possible backlash from Beijing.
He was speaking at a briefing on the report.
While not pushing the U.S. and the Chinese economies, the world's two largest economies, towards a trade war, the U.S. business groups want U.S. officials to act against Beijing on market imbalances.
In the past years, many U.S. companies eschewed the idea of forceful action by Washington for fear of retribution by China but this move by the American businesses mark a shift from years past as the complaints have been more vociferous.
The surrender of key technology or hit competitiveness could be the result due to Beijing's plans for subsidies of billions of dollars to domestic competitors and regulations, foreign technology companies fear as happening.
"With uncertainty stemming from political and economic transitions in both the U.S. and China, perceptions of a deteriorating investment environment for foreign companies in China, and a slowing economy, 2017 will likely be one of the most challenging years in decades for U.S. companies in China," the chamber said.
The Chinese foreign ministry said that in a process whose speed is "quite visible," China is committed to further opening its economy.
"China is already one of the most open developing nations," spokesman Lu Kang told a regular news briefing.
U.S. commercial interests in China could be undermined and undercut by Trump's focus on reining in North Korea, worry U.S. business leaders. Beijing would get a better trade deal if it helped resolve the issue, Trump tweeted last week.
"I'm sorry to see there is a possibility we may lose some momentum on helping to level the playing field with China in our economic relationship, due to the situation in North Korea, if there is some kind of trade-off," Zarit said.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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