AmCham Shanghai marks 100th birthday
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.
The American Chamber of Commerce