Hundreds of American firms eye Chinese market at Import Expo

World Today

Despite the U.S.-China trade dispute, nearly 200 American firms are participating in the International Import Expo in Shanghai. Many have been impacted by the Trump administration’s trade policies and tariffs, but still remain optimistic.

CGTN’s Roee Ruttenberg filed this report from the expo.

Big name American brands dot the pavilions at theImport Expo in Shanghai, but it’s hard to forget the bumpy ride some of these companies have had just getting there.

In August, America’s number two automaker, Ford, scrapped plans to sell a made-in-China model in the U.S. Its CEO dubbed it a casualty of Washington’s trade war with Beijing. He said tariffs are costing the company $1 billion.

General Electric was already having a bad year even before the tariffs went into effect. The company estimated duties would cost it $300 to 400 million. Whirlpool said it’ll spend roughly the same amount, additional cost sourcing metals equivalent to the company’s total profits last year.

Caterpillar, maker of machines mostly for construction and mining, is also bracing for increased material costs.  In the U.S., Caterpillar sells equipment to American farmers, but they’re facing retaliatory tariffs by China on some of their crops. Domestically, the company has seen a cutback in purchases.

Honeywell’s CEO also said tariffs were squeezing margins. But in China, the company expects growth.

“Outside of the U.S., China is the only country that we have a connected enterprise business group on the ground,” Lydia Lu, Vice President of Honeywell China said. “The majority market is here, R&D and the manufacturing are here, we serve the local market and the technology on the ground.”

There was no official U.S. exhibit, a decision viewed by some as a snub by Washington. Even so, there’s politics, and then there’s business.

“American companies are very bullish on the Chinese market. We hope to expand our presence here, to do more business here, to have more exports here, to have more investment here,” Craig Allen, President of the U.S.-China Business Council said. “We are here for the long term and hopeful that the two governments will be able to resolve their differences so that we can move on to greater prosperity for all.”

Chinese officials said they’re encouraged by the large number of American companies that came anyway. But admit, there’s work to be done.

“We agreed at the last politburo meeting that we need to keep foreign investment stable,” Wang Xinkui, Vice-Chair of Shanghai CPPCC said. “Meaning, we need to improve the environment for companies wanting to do business here, especially ones that already have a presence in China.”

The message to U.S. companies is that the door to China is still open, and the ride will get smoother.

US businesses use Import Expo to tap Chinese market

American businesses are happily putting politics aside at the China International Import Expo. They are trying to sell their services and products to the world’s largest consumer market. CGTN’s Jessica Stone filed this report from Shanghai.