September 29, 2010: American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai Delegation

(Click to enlarge) From left to right: Satu Limaye, director of the East-West Center in Washington discusses export promotion with Ms. Brenda Lei Foster, Dr. Christian Murck, Mr. Robert Roche and Mr. Benjamin H. Kinnas.

The U.S.-China Economic Relationship and the National Export Initiative


(Washington, DC) Despite certain regulatory concerns, and market access issues, members of the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai (AmCham Shanghai) maintain that the business climate and operating conditions in China are excellent. The latest AmCham Shanghai report, “ U.S. Export Competitiveness in China: Winning in the World’s Fastest-Growing Market ,” illustrates the importance of engaging the Chinese market and developing a US trade policy which would increase export competitiveness and create jobs and economic growth in the United States. This East-West Center in Washington Asia Pacific Political Economy seminar featured Mr. Robert Roche, chairman of AmCham Shanghai and director of Acorn International; Ms. Brenda Lei Foster, president of AmCham Shanghai; Mr. Benjamin Kinnas, senior vice president and general manager of Wells Fargo Bank’s Shanghai branch; and Dr. Christian Murck, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in China, who discussed key ways in which the United States could improve export promotion in China.

Large businesses and small and medium enterprises (SMEs), alike, are establishing roots in China, where there is long-term potential for economic growth. They can be found in the large coastal cities, but are also spreading across the country, and are doing more and more business in medium-sized cities as well. Despite the growing number of US businesses in China, Mr. Roche stressed that the United States government and policy-makers should do everything possible to boost US export competitiveness, because the United States is increasingly losing market share to competitor countries, such as Germany and Japan. President Obama’s National Export Initiative (NEI), released on March 11, 2010, has attracted considerable attention, but Dr. Murck still believes that greater action on trade policy is needed. He argued that promoting exports would increase the number of US jobs and help economic recovery take place.

Mr. Kinnas also argued that there are still more measures to be taken to revitalize U.S. exports to China, which are currently down from 10.76 % of China’s imports from the world, in 2001, to 7.18% of imports in 2008. Based on the AmCham Shanghai China Market Export Competitiveness Index, included in the recent report, the United States only ranked number twelve, while countries, such as Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Germany, the EU and Malaysia took the top rankings. Some recommendations for boosting competitiveness included: a presidential export mission to China, enhanced federal, state and local export promotion programs which could help U.S. businesses navigate the Chinese market, and continued dialogue with the Chinese government on difficult economic issues.


To read the recently released AmCham Shanghai report, " U.S. Export Competitiveness in China ," please click here.


Robert Rocheis the director of Acorn International and the 2010 chairman of AmCham Shanghai. Roche, who is an entrepreneur, attorney and investor, founded Acorn International, China’s largest infomercial company in 2007. He also founded and is chairman of Oaklawn Marketing, the largest infomercial company in Japan. After arriving in Shanghai, Roche also co-founded URBN Hotel, the first carbon neutral hotel in China. He is also a member of the USA Pavilion Steering Committee for the 2010 Shanghai World Expo. Additionally, he was one of three non-US based members of President Obama’s National Finance Committee. Additionally, Robert was recently named to President Obama’s Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations. 


Brenda Fosteris the president of AmCham Shanghai. Prior to assuming this position in 2005, she was president and CEO of ULU Group, Ltd., a firm specializing in emerging technologies in the Asia-Pacific region. Ms. Foster has also held the positions of executive advisor to the governor of Hawaii for International and National Affairs, director of the State of Hawaii’s Office of International Relations and executive director of Hawaii’s World Affairs Council, and the Pacific and Asian Affairs Council. She was also on the Board of the USA Pavilion at the Shanghai 2010 World Expo.


Benjamin H. Kinnasis senior vice president and general manager of Wells Fargo Bank's Shanghai branch. He is concurrently regional manager for trade finance in the Asia Pacific region. Prior to his current regional responsibilities, Kinnas served as general manager of the bank's Tokyo branch. He is an experienced emerging markets banker who advocates trade and sensible and appropriate financial market reform and liberalization in these emerging markets. Kinnas is also vice chair of AmCham Shanghai’s Financial Services Committee, is an active member of the Shanghai Bankers Association.


Christian Murckis the president of the American Chamber of Commerce in the People’s Republic of China (AmCham-China). He is also the independent director of J.P. Morgan Chase (China) Ltd. Before joining AmCham-China as president in April, 2010, Murck served as vice chairman-Asia, chief executive officer-Asia and managing director of China for APCO Worldwide, from 2001- 2010. Before joining APCO, he was the Managing Director and Senior Country Officer of The Chase Manhattan Bank for 5 years. Murck was also previously based in Taipei, from 1991-1996, and was Chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in Taiwan, 1995-1996.