AmCham Shanghai’s 2016 Doorknock continued today with meetings on Capitol Hill with key Senators, more than 25 Congressional staffers, briefings from the US Chamber of Commerce and American Enterprise Institute Resident Scholar Derek Scissors, and an evening reception cohosted with the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce DC Branch. Prospects for passage of TPP dominated the discussion with many on Capitol Hill urging that the business community do more to promote the trade agreement. This is the third in a series of reports on the 2016 AmCham Shanghai Doorknock.
On the second day of the Doorknock, the delegation shifted its focus squarely on Capitol Hill. The delegation met with Senator Mark Kirk (R-Illinois) and Senator Cory Gardner (R-Colorado) as well as numerous Congressional Staffers. In separate meetings with the two Senators, the delegation described the operating environment for US companies in China as well as the importance of TPP and a US-China Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT). There was also discussion of IT and cyber issues and the need for China to move faster with financial sector liberalization.
The delegation also met with a large number of Congressional staffers over the course of the day. There were separate roundtables for House Republican and House Democratic staffers. The delegation also met with staffers from Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-Wisconsin) office, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi’s (D-California) office, the Congressional Executive Commission on China, Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senate Finance Committee, House Republican leadership offices, Senator Orrin Hatch’s (R-Utah) office, Senator John Cornyn’s (R-Texas) office, House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer’s (D-Maryland) office, Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Kentucky) office, and Senator Ron Wyden’s (D-Oregon) office.
Many of these offices expressed skepticism that TPP would have enough votes to pass later this year. Biologics, tobacco and currency were some of the key areas of concern for members of Congress. Some staffers expressed optimism that if these issues could be addressed before the lame duck session of Congress, then the prospect for passage would improve. But even then, most remained skeptical that such agreements could be reached within the remaining time. With both US presidential candidates voicing strong opposition to TPP, there was an overwhelming sentiment that TPP needed to be passed before the new president took office, otherwise it would face an uncertain fate.
The delegation also received a briefing on TPP and Washington views on China from U.S. Chamber of Commerce Vice President for Asia Tami Overby and Executive Director for China Jeremie Waterman. They both noted that the US Chamber is spending considerable time working with members of Congress to secure passage of TPP. They also noted that the time to get a deal done on TPP is very short and must be done during the lame duck session. In contrast, American Enterprise Institute Resident Scholar Derek Scissors had more pessimistic views. He argued that Congress was unlikely to approve TPP and that neither a President Trump nor a President Clinton would be interested in resurrecting the agreement. Scissors also noted that it is unclear how a Trump or Clinton administration would handle the US-China relationship, but that both of them will make changes to the way that key bilateral dialogues (S&ED and JCCT) are handled. He was also pessimistic that a US-China BIT would come to fruition before 2019 and that even that was uncertain. Scissors also offered views on the state of China’s economy, some of which you can hear here.
The day ended with a reception co-hosted with the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce DC Branch. The reception attracted nearly 70 participants from the China-watching community in Washington including academics, American business representatives, administration officials and Hill staffers. The reception also attracted many representatives from the Chinese business community.
The delegation will wrap up its trip tomorrow with more meetings on Capitol Hill, briefings from the Peterson Institute and Brookings Institute and a meeting with the National Security Council.
Stay tuned for more updates and news from the Doorknock.
The 2016 AmCham Shanghai Doorknock is led by Board Chairman Ker Gibbs and includes 13 other members: AmCham Shanghai President Kenneth Jarrett; AmCham China President Alan Beebe; B&L (Shanghai) Engineering Consulting President Phil Branham; MKT& Associates CEO Michael Crotty; KPMG Markets Strategy Partner David Frey; Sigmatex- Asia General Manager Cameron Johnson; Technology Consultant and Investor Caroline Pan; Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP Co-Chair of Asia Practice and Partner Gentry Sayad; Coca-Cola Bottling Investments Group China CEO Glen Walter; AmCham Southwest China Chairman Benjamin Wang, Dupont Managing Director of Communications, Marketing, & Sales for North Asia, Australia, and New Zealand Helen Yang; International Learning Enterprise General Manager Vincent Yang; and Allergan China Country President Shirley Zhao.