US Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Officer Thomas Donohue speaks at the Chamber of Commerce in Washington, Jan 10, 2018. (SUSAN WALSH / AP)
A top business organization on Tuesday called on the incoming administration of US President-elect Joe Biden to reengage with the world and stabilize relations with China while lifting tariffs that hurt companies and customers in the United States.
Thomas Donohue, chief executive of the US Chamber of Commerce, made the appeal in his annual "State of American Business" speech.
He said the US' economic future is tied to its global engagement.
Noting that in recent years, the country's resilience has been tested through trade wars and tariffs, Donohue stressed the need for the US to "reengage with the world through a bold trade agenda" to drive growth and prosperity.
The trade wars and tariffs seemed not to have brought a result that the administration of President Donald Trump had hoped for: closing the trade deficit with its major business partners
The trade wars and tariffs seemed not to have brought a result that the administration of President Donald Trump had hoped for: closing the trade deficit with its major business partners.
The US trade deficit surged to US$68.1 billion in November, the highest monthly deficit in 14 years, according to US Commerce Department figures released last week.
Donohue said the US needs to reaffirm its role in multinational organizations such as the World Trade Organization and the World Health Organization and "restore our credibility on the global stage".
He called for an end to the many tariffs enacted in recent years while underlining the importance of global outreach for the US economy, as 95 percent of the customers of US products live beyond its borders.
'Must lift the tariffs'
The chamber executive's remarks were in contrast to US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer's recent advice to Biden that the new administration should maintain all the tariffs on China and weaken the WTO so that it can't overrule US policies, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
"And we must lift the tariffs that have hurt American manufacturers and farmers and have been paid by American companies and their customers," Donohue said.
China is by far the largest, fastest-growing market for US companies; for the good of our own economy, and the world's, we have to seize these opportunities.
Thomas Donohue, Chief executive of US Chamber of Commerce
In its 2021 Policy Priorities, the US chamber said it supports the pandemic response by lifting tariffs and other barriers to trade in medical supplies and working with international partners to eliminate export restrictions.
As for China, Donohue stressed that US-China relations should improve.
"We must work to stabilize the relationship through strength and cooperation," he said. "China is by far the largest, fastest-growing market for US companies; for the good of our own economy, and the world's, we have to seize these opportunities."
US-China relations have plunged to their lowest point since the two countries forged diplomatic relations 41 years ago.
John Allen, president of the Brookings Institution, said last week that Biden has a "real opportunity to turn the page on the relationship".
Donohue called on the US Congress to support the US economy through the end of the pandemic and he expects a rebound in growth in the third quarter of this year.
"We won't restore the jobs, growth and prosperity that were lost in 2020, until we eradicate the pandemic and get our economy firing on all cylinders," he said. "And for that to happen, our elected officials must pull all the right policy levers－and push back against misguided proposals－in 2021."
HONG KONG NEWS