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Remarks at U.S.-China Business Cooperation Forum, Los Angeles, California

Friday, February 17, 2012

Commerce Secretary John Bryson
Remarks at U.S.-China Business Cooperation Forum, Los Angeles, California

Thank you, Vice Minister Gao, and thank you to the Chinese Ministry of Commerce for hosting this Forum.

I want to recognize my friends Mayor Villaraigosa, and also Governor Brown. It was the Governor who brought me into my previous public service over 35 years ago.

It’s great to be here in one of America’s great cities. My wife and I raised our four daughters here, and I served as CEO of Edison International for nearly 18 years. We consider this to be home. So, I am very pleased to welcome the Chinese delegation to our wonderful city.

Vice President Xi–I have greatly enjoyed meeting with you. I trust that your trip across the country has gone well. I hope you felt the warmth of the American people once again–as you did many years ago.

I also want to recognize and welcome the governors of Chinese provinces who are here with us today.

Next Tuesday, it will be 40 years since President Nixon went to China. At that time, he correctly predicted that a bridge would be built between our countries.  

So not only has that bridge been built, but it gets stronger every day. As the two largest economies in the world, our relationship has never been more important.

The prosperity of people in China, in America, and–in fact–around the world will be affected by how effectively we cooperate and lead together.

I’d like to briefly talk in these remarks about how we can create greater balance in two critical areas – trade and direct  investment.

Last year, my first international trip as Secretary was to Beijing and Chengdu. In Beijing, we saw 33 American-made trucks from Wisconsin being used to fight fires and remove snow. The Department of Commerce was involved in helping the company, Oshkosh, enter into the Chinese market.

Stories like that are now commonplace. As a result of Chinese economic growth, U.S. exports to China have grown by almost 50 percent over the past two years.  They exceeded $100 billion for the first time in 2011.

At the same time, however, our goods trade deficit with China grew–by about 30 percent.

We must work harder to achieve balanced trade growth. The President is in the state of Washington today, outlining steps to further increase U.S. exports. And I am pleased that this topic is a major part of today’s forum.

Already, the Department of Commerce has 120 of our commercial service officers in China–twice the number we have in any other country.   

Today, American businesses are eager to know more about which business fields and sectors in China will be opened wider for foreign participation. And, many of our high-tech–and other– businesses want to know how China will work to address concerns surrounding issues such as intellectual property and trade secret protection, as well as forced technology transfer.

Addressing these issues isn’t easy. And to be sure, we do have our differences, but with mutual commitment, I believe we can find common ground.

As members of the World Trade Organization, there are no two countries in the world with a greater stake in an open, rules-based trading system than China and the United States.

Our U.S. businesses are eager to meet the needs of Chinese consumers. And as an example of working together, we are pleased that this week China took a meaningful step forward, committing to allow companies from around the world to compete in selling motor vehicle insurance.

Earlier this week in Washington, China ore broadly committed to “actively expand imports” and “promote balanced trade.”

As that commitment is fulfilled, it will be good for China, good for America, and good for the global economy.  

Let me turn now to direct investment.

Increasing the amount of direct investment both in the U.S. and China is another critical part of a broadened U.S.-China commercial relationship. American companies stand ready to continue investments in China, even as our Chinese counterparts expand investment and manufacturing here in the United States.  

To move to greater balance, openness and transparency in foreign investment approvals in China will be essential.

In the last few years we pleased that Chinese companies have moved beyond exports and have begun to make direct investment in the United States.

In general, we welcome companies that choose America when they decide to build a new facility and create new jobs.

Foreign direct investment in the U.S. has been strong from many regions around the world–with $228 billion in 2010, up from $153 billion in 2009.  

America is truly open for business.

And, more than ever, we stand ready to help foreign firms and U.S. economic development organizations create more of these win-win situations. A significant further step announced by President Obama is the SelectUSA initiative at the Commerce Department.  

Through SelectUSA, we will train our Commercial Service officers in fast-growing markets–including China.  

They will provide greater help to Chinese businesses that see the benefits of directly investing in the U.S. and creating jobs here.

The SelectUSA initiative will help us address, investigate, and respond to any concerns that Chinese investors might have regarding our rules and regulations.

In closing, it is clear that there are common ideas and principles that must be instilled as the bedrock of the U.S. China relationship.

A level playing field.  Balance in our economic and trade relationship. Leadership in ensuring strong and sustainable global growth.

This is the vision we must strive for as we build an even stronger bridge between America and China in the 21st century.

With that shared vision, we can also work together to address even more of the world's greatest challenges–from security. . . to energy and the environment. . . to health and education. . . and more.

As the two largest economies in the world, we are called on now to cooperate more than ever before.  

People like all of you here today will lead the way forward in a spirit of enterprise and openness.

In this–the Year of the Dragon–let us unlock the full potential of our industries and our people. Working together, I am confident that the future of our countries will continue to be bright and prosperous.