US commerce chief calls for ‘predictable’ business environment in China

Gina Raimondo is latest US official to visit China as part of efforts to ease tensions between the two economies.

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo
Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo is the latest US official to visit China in recent months [Andy Wong/Pool via Reuters]

The United States wants to work with China to ensure a more “predictable” environment for US businesses in Shanghai, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo has told officials in the economic hub.

Speaking with Shanghai Communist Party chief Chen Jining on day four of a bridge-building trip to China, Raimondo said on Wednesday a “stable economic relationship is good for America, good for China and good for the world”.

“The US-China economic relationship is among the most consequential in the world,” she told Chen.

Raimondo told Chen she was looking forward to talks to “bring about a more predictable business environment, predictable regulatory environment, and a level playing field for American businesses here in Shanghai”.

US firms in China have long complained about what they see as an unfair business environment, with limited protection for intellectual property and preferential treatment afforded to domestic competitors.

Those fears have been compounded this year by a broad crackdown on US consulting firms operating in China.

A new anti-espionage law, which came into force on July 1, has also spooked foreign and domestic firms as they try to decipher authorities’ intentions and, crucially, pinpoint what is off-limits.

In a Tuesday meeting with Vice Premier He Lifeng in Beijing, Raimondo raised what Washington sees as unfair trade practices by China, according to a US Department of Commerce readout.

She also emphasised the “importance of strengthening the protection of trade secrets for US businesses operating in China”.

The commerce secretary is one of a number of senior US officials to visit China in recent months – part of an effort by Washington to improve its working relationship with its largest strategic rival.

Raimondo has used the trip to seek more open discussions with the Chinese over restrictive trade curbs and the two sides have agreed to set up a working group to iron out the laundry list of trade disputes between them.

Source: AFP