SHANGHAI, Dec. 13, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- In a speech to nearly 400 U.S. and Chinese businesspeople and government officials last night, U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke emphasized the increasingly interdependent economic and trade relationship between the United States and China, and highlighted key achievements of his tenure as U.S. Ambassador to China as he prepares to step down early next year.
"A prosperous China is good for the United States, and a strong U.S. economy is good for China. And more importantly, strong U.S.-China relations are good for the entire world."
Ambassador Locke applauded some of the key achievements AmCham Shanghai has made this year. He specifically noted AmCham Shanghai's innovative Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Center and Corporate Social Responsibility programs. "AmCham Shanghai's SME Center has grown since I last visited and has done much to further the interest of American and Chinese businesses on both sides of the Pacific."
"I want to applaud your very successful hosting of the second Corporate Social Responsibility Conference focused on CSR and the China Dream. Your annual Corporate Social Responsibility awards and fellowships are extremely important in building a stronger public and private sector approach to enhancing communities in which companies operate and their employees live," continued Locke.
Ambassador Locke also commended the efforts of the Shanghai Municipal Government to engage the American business community on opportunities to support the Shanghai Pilot Free Trade Zone (FTZ) development and implementation.
"The launch of the Shanghai Pilot Free Trade Zone in September has the potential to boost economic growth and productivity and to stimulate service sector growth first in Shanghai and ultimately throughout the rest of China. We are pleased that the municipal government has been consulting AmCham Shanghai on the Free Trade Zone because collaboration and information [exchange] between business and government can only make the Zone more successful."
Robert Theleen, AmCham Shanghai 2013 Chair of the Board of Governors, echoed Locke's comments in his speech, "Although many of the FTZ's details have not been ironed out, I am convinced that the FTZ will be positive for Shanghai and China as a whole. The FTZ will help advance objectives such as further development of Shanghai's services sector growth, attracting additional foreign investment and supporting Shanghai's plan to become an International Financial Center."
"AmCham Shanghai and our members strongly support the objectives of the Shanghai FTZ. Indeed, the FTZ has drawn significant member company interest because of the commercial possibilities associated with a more open economic zone and the promise of relaxed rules concerning foreign investment, trade, financial markets and other service industries in the FTZ," continued Theleen.
Ambassador Locke highlighted key achievements of his tenure including improving bilateral trade environment, streamlining of U.S. visa process for Chinese travelers, and promoting Chinese foreign direct investment into the United States, noting that Chinese investment to the U.S. totaled $18.5 billion dollars over the last 21 months, more than the total value in the previously 11 years combined.
He reiterated, "As Chinese companies go global, we want them to investment in America because foreign direct investment in the United States is vital to our economic growth, vital to job creation, and vital to American productivity while at the same time growing the Chinese businesses and to the benefit of their owners and their shareholders."
"AmCham Shanghai has played a vital role in this effort. The Chamber's SME Virtual Platform connects Chinese investors with investment opportunities in the United States, and this program has already facilitated several successful matches," added Locke.
In a speech to attendees, Vice Mayor Zhou Bo praised the role of U.S. business community in Shanghai. He said, "Thanks to the active engagement from the U.S. Consulate General in Shanghai and AmCham Shanghai, American companies in Shanghai have not only enjoyed rapid growth themselves, but also made an important contribution to the economic and social development of Shanghai."
Vice Mayor Zhou remarked on the important economic and trade relationship Shanghai maintains with the United States, highlighting the bilateral trade volume between Shanghai and the U.S. accounts for one sixth of the total trade volume of Shanghai. According to Vice Mayor Zhou, U.S. investment in Shanghai accounts for 7.2 percent of total foreign investment in Shanghai and the outbound investment from Shanghai to United States has exceeded $2 billion, accounting for about 14 percent of the city's total overseas investment this year.
Vice Mayor Zhou also emphasized Shanghai's commitment to support the Central Government's reform agenda through the FTZ. "We strive to build a world-class free trade zone that provides investment and trade facilitation, full currency convertibility, efficient regulations, and a sound legal framework. This is a great opportunity for U.S. companies to explore and engage in the Shanghai FTZ."
Prior to his speech, Ambassador Locke held a private meeting with Vice Mayor Zhou along with an AmCham Shanghai delegation led by Board Chair Robert Theleen and President Kenneth Jarrett and U.S. Consul General in Shanghai Robert Griffiths to discuss the business climate for U.S. companies in Shanghai. During the meeting, Ambassador Locke highlighted the potential of FTZ and opportunities for shared collaboration to address pressing environment challenges.
AmCham Shanghai presented a plaque to Ambassador Locke to recognize his strong support and tireless advocacy on behalf of the American business community to enhance U.S. competitiveness in China and promote foreign direct investment into the United States.
The Thirteenth Annual Government Appreciation Dinner, held at the Jing An Shangri-La, West Shanghai, celebrated the long-standing partnership between the U.S. business community, the U.S. government and the Shanghai Municipal Government which has greatly contributed to the rapid development of Shanghai, China's commercial, industrial and financial capital.
About AmCham Shanghai
The American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai, known as the "Voice of American Business" in China, is the largest and fastest growing American Chamber in the Asia-Pacific region. Founded in 1915, AmCham Shanghai was the third American Chamber established outside the United States.
As a non-profit, non-partisan business organization, AmCham Shanghai is committed to the principles of free trade, open markets, private enterprise and the unrestricted flow of information.
Visit www.amcham-shanghai.org for more information about AmCham Shanghai.
SOURCE The American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai