AmCham Shang­hai marks 100th birth­day

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By YU RAN in Shang­hai

yu­ran@chi­nadaily.com.cn

On June 9, 1915, 45 US busi­ness ex­ec­u­tives met at Shang­hai’s Palace Ho­tel to dis­cuss cre­at­ing a busi­ness as­so­ci­a­tion that would pro­mote the in­ter­ests of Amer­i­can com­merce in China.

This year, over 250 mem­bers and guests cel­e­brated the 100th an­niver­sary of the date that the as­so­ci­a­tion, which has be­come The Amer­i­can Cham­ber of Com­merce in Shang­hai, was started. The group is ded­i­cated to en­hanc­ing US-China trade and co­op­er­a­tion be­tween busi­nesses.

In 1915, the new cham­ber’s pro­vi­sional com­mit­tee in­cluded such iconic in­dus­trial names as Amer­i­can Steel, Stan­dard Oil, Bri­tish-Amer­i­can To­bacco, Singer Sewing and Dol­lar Ship­ping.

Its cur­rent cor­po­rate mem­ber­ship in­cludes Ap­ple, FedEx and Star­bucks, com­pa­nies whose founders, ideas and in­ven­tions were un­born, un­known or sim­ply didn’t ex­ist in 1915.

“AmCham Shang­hai has worked to sup­port healthy com­mer­cial ties be­tween the United States and China. We are proud of the con­tri­bu­tions Amer­i­can com­pa­nies have made to China’s eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment,” said Robert Theleen, chair­man of the Board of Gover­nors of AmCham Shang­hai, and ac­tive in US-China busi­ness since the 1970s.

The cham­ber now has over 3,700 mem­bers, of whom 40 per­cent are Chi­nese staff mem­bers work­ing for US com­pa­nies.

Over the past four decades, bi­lat­eral trade has ex­panded from a mea­ger $4.7 mil­lion in 1971 to an as­ton­ish­ing $592 bil­lion in 2014, an in­crease of 125,957 times.

“As we en­ter the next cen­tury of AmCham Shang­hai’s de­vel­op­ment, we do so fully aware that an en­tirely new di­men­sion of our work is just be­gin­ning – sup­port­ing in­vest­ment from China into the United States,” said Ken­neth Jar­rett, AmCham Shang­hai pres­i­dent.

He added that the change would fur­ther deepen eco­nomic ties be­tween two coun­tries, and that the cham­ber will con­tinue to work tire­lessly to help mem­bers suc­ceed and help strengthen US-China com­mer­cial ties.

AmCham Shang­hai’s mis­sion also now ex­tends to the Yangtze River Delta and be­yond.

“To ob­tain suc­cess in China – fac­ing fierce com­pe­ti­tion from lo­cal en­ter­prises, which no longer com­pete on price alone but with higher-qual­ity prod­ucts – we need to de­sign more in­no­va­tive items and of­fer bet­ter ser­vices for the larger China mar­ket,” said James Michael­son, fi­nance di­rec­tor in­ter­na­tional, Corn­ing Inc, a top com­pany in ma­te­ri­als science.

AmCham also re­mains a nexus for the ex­change of ideas, in­for­ma­tion and best in­dus­try prac­tices. In the past year, the cham­ber has hosted over 400 events for mem­bers and non-mem­bers.

“We are also com­mit­ted to ex­pand and en­cour­age US-China trade. In the past 18 months, ei­ther through our SME cen­ter or via our sup­port for the In­vest USA pro­gram, we have worked en­er­get­i­cally to as­sist many Chi­nese com­pa­nies to in­vest in the US,” said Jar­rett.

AmCham’s sup­port for the com­mu­nity also con­tin­ues to grow. Be­tween 2004 and 2014, AmCham Shang­hai and its mem­bers gave over 8.8 mil­lion yuan ($1.4 mil­lion) to char­i­ta­ble causes in and around Shang­hai. Another 750,000 yuan was raised at their 2015 cen­te­nary ball, some of which will fund The Cen­ten­nial Schol­ar­ship, which helps Chi­nese un­der­grad­u­ate stu­dents at Fu­dan and Jiao Tong univer­si­ties, in part­ner­ship with the Shang­hai Soong Ching Ling Foun­da­tion.

“We look for­ward to another 100 years of sup­port­ing US busi­nesses, en­cour­ag­ing Chi­nese in­vest­ment in the US, and con­tribut­ing to char­i­ties in our com­mu­nity,” said Jar­rett.

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

The Amer­i­can Cham­ber of Com­merce

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