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Remarks By Ambassador Froman at The Chicago Council on Global Affairs
U.S.-China: A Shared Vision of Global Economic Leadership
December 17, 2014
“Thank you, Ivo, and thank you for organizing this event, and thanks to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the World Business Chicago for hosting us here.
“Over the last couple of days, the Vice Premier, Secretary Pritzker, and I have gone from event to event. At each event, I think we each have used various Chinese proverbs to make a point. So for change of pace, I thought today I would cite an American poet, Carl Sandburg, who grew up here in Illinois and spent a lot of time here in Chicago. He once said, ‘I’m an idealist. I don’t know where I’m going, but I’m on my way.’
“Now, Sandburg went on to become one of America’s most accomplished poets, but for those of us who may be better at writing prose than poetry, we need to have some sense of where we’re going. And that vision is a necessity, particularly where the world’s two largest economies are concerned.
“Good vision begins with an appreciation for the past. When it comes to our economic relationship with China, there’s plenty to appreciate.
“Consider how far that relationship has come since 1983, when the first JCCT was established. Then, U.S. exports to China were just over $2 billion, and China was our 20th largest trading partner. Now, U.S. exports are more than $120 billion, and China is our number two trading partner.
“Then, China had no appreciable investment in the United States, and now China is the fastest growing source of investment in the United States, supporting jobs here, as well as in their own country. We can see the benefit of that growth in more jobs supported by exports, more competitive businesses, greater consumer choice, and the list goes on. And nowhere is that more clear than here in Chicago.
“Last year, the greater Chicago area exported more to China than ever before, and now there are more than 50 Chinese-owned companies investing and creating jobs here in the Chicago area.
“A century ago, Carl Sandburg dubbed Chicago the ‘Nation’s Freight Handler.’ Today, Chicago is America’s leading hub for exports shipped by air to China, responsible for more than one-quarter of all American air exports to China.
“In that same poem, Sandburg described Chicago as ‘planning, building, breaking, rebuilding.’ Today, Chicago architects shape not only America’s skylines but also China’s. In Shanghai, our people are working side-by-side on what will be the world’s second largest building when it’s completed next year.
“That tower isn’t intended to be a monument, but it will be a fitting tribute to an economic partnership that has grown so much, and that the rest of the world looks to. And because the world looks to us, we must look forward, together.
“Let me describe what a shared vision might look like.
“First and foremost, it’s a shared vision that’s based on a U.S.-China relationship that is founded on mutual interest and mutual respect. Mutual interest in unlocking opportunity, expanding exports, creating a level playing field for our workers and our businesses, and lowering barriers to investment. Mutual respect in having candid conversations about areas where we disagree and putting creative, bold ideas on the table to bridge those differences.
“That’s why the JCCT is one of our best tools for strengthening relations, and why we’ve been working so hard to sharpen that tool by creating new opportunities for the private sector, to engage with senior level economic officials to address our outstanding issues. Our agenda this year runs the gamut from market access, to intellectual property rights protection, to regulatory practices, to a number of other issues that impact our economies.
“It’s also a vision of a shared commitment to rules. We welcome the rise of a peaceful and prosperous China that upholds the rules-based trading system. As China’s domestic demand grows and as it continues to open its economy to fair competition, American workers, farmers, and businesses will find more customers among China’s 1.3 billion population and burgeoning middle class.
“Finally, it’s a vision of shared responsibility, because with greater economic power comes greater responsibility, and as the world’s leading economies, every decision we make sets a precedent. In our trade and investment relations, we must set precedents that benefit not only our countries, but also the rights of workers around the world and the environment that we all share.
“In sum, those are the outlines of a shared vision of economic leadership. But we need to remember that our leadership, like our bilateral engagement here this week and throughout this year, is how we translate vision into reality. We need to remember that leadership isn’t just somewhere you end up, it’s how you get there.“Thank you very much.”