Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Commerce Sec. Looks to Boost Cooperation With China

Amid tenuous U.S.-China ties, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke opened a policy conference on the two countries’ commercial relationship on Thursday morning in the Lohrfink Auditorium with a keynote address stressing the need for cooperation.

“We’re here to discuss how we can nurture and improve the most heavily scrutinized bilateral commercial relationship on Earth – one in which our disagreements get all the headlines,” Locke said. “The United States is the most open major economy in the world, and we are committed to forging a future in which China can take full advantage of the opportunities that come with economic liberalization.”

The discussions at this conference will serve as a preamble to the next U.S.-China joint commission on commerce and trade, which will be held later in December. Panelists at the day-long conference came seeking a deeper understanding of the underlying issues between trade agreements.

Introduced by Dr. Resat Kasaba from the Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington and by McDonough School of Business Dean George Daly, Locke kicked off a day-long discussion on the economic trends and trading patterns of the United States and China, two key players in the 21st century’s global political and economic arena.

Jessica Holland (SFS ’11), a regional and comparative studies major who has been actively studying Chinese relations, said Locke gave a thoughtful presentation.

“I noticed his careful use of language,” Holland said. “He was praising China’s economic growth, but he also underlined the United States’ desire for more Chinese consumption, but he said this all in a careful way and welcomed discussion from the panelists.”

The panels were divided into four topics: China’s changing economic landscape; science and technology innovation trends in China; energy and environmental cooperation; and the impact of developments in China’s commercial legal system. Each panel had three discussants and one moderator.

Professor Robert Sutter, a Georgetown visiting professor of Asian studies in the School of Foreign Service, served as a moderator for the science and technology panel.

“This conference is a very good exercise for better insights,” Sutter said. “We need a better understanding of the economic relationships because they are subject to a lot of one-way thinking. The variety of perspectives we hear from [the panelists] is very important.”

Locke urged the panelists and moderators, who ranged from professors to representatives from the U.S. Department of Commerce, to address issues such as U.S. exports in China and mutually beneficial trade on a providence-to-providence level.

“I thought that the regional focus about Cambodia and Southeast Asia was interesting, like how they adjust to this new economic norm and model. It was helpful for me that the panelists focused in on specific areas,” Gabriel Ruth (GRD) said. Ruth works for Tailored Solutions & Consulting, and she plans to go to China next summer for a global residency program.

While panelists did acknowledge the growth of trade between the two countries in the last decade, there was much discussion about the cultural challenges and the potential ability of Chinese companies to become lucrative trading partners for the United States.

Panelist for “China’s Changing Economic Landscape,” Courtney Gregoire, director of the National Export Initiative at the Commerce Department, recalled her interactions in a trip to China for the U.S.-China legal exchange.

“There was a lot of robust dialogue between us and the Chinese officials about how to administer the National Export Initiative and the free trade agreements,” Gregoire said. “While a lot of U.S. companies see the nine to 10 growth rate and are excited to trade in China, only 1 percent of small medium-sized companies are exporting, and 58 percent of those are exporting to Canada and Mexico.”

Panelist Shang-Jin Wei, professor of finance and economics at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business, echoed Gregoire’s concerns, but from the Chinese perspective.

“China is one of the few places that will allow U.S. exports to double once every five years. The key to increase U.S. net exports is not micro, or firm-level competitiveness, but a macro, country-level savings-investment balance,” Wei said.

Overall, the conference seemed to explore the struggle with China’s changing political, social and technological trends, and how they might align with those of the United States in the future. The relationship between these two major global influences has already improved in the past decade, and Locke assured speakers and attendees of the conference that more collaboration will fuel global economic prosperity.

“As recently as 40 years ago, a commercial relationship between the United States and China barely existed,” Locke said.

“Successful engagement between the Commerce Department’s scientific agencies and Chinese research institutes, government labs and government agencies are essential parts of us creating a more integrated economic relationship.”

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