U.S.-China Working Group Emphasize Importance of U.S.-China Bilateral Relationship

Nov 20, 2014

APEC Summit Advanced Agreements Between U.S. and China to Reduce Trade and Travel Barriers

Working Group Founded in 2005 by Kirk and Rep. Larsen

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Senator Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Representatives Rick Larsen (D-Wash.-02) and Charles Boustany (R-La.-03), hosted a meeting of the U.S.-China Working Group with U.S. government and private sector representatives to discuss the outcomes of President Obama's visit to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit (APEC) in Beijing last week. During the visit, President Obama met with China's President Xi Jinping and concluded a series of bilateral agreements regarding tourism, trade, energy, and national security.  

“The relationship between the United States and China is the most important bilateral relationship of the 21st century,” Senator Kirk said. “The 10-year visa will give cities like Chicago a big boost from additional Chinese business and tourism travelers, which nationally will generate $85 billion to the economy by 2021. The U.S.-China Working Group will continue to work to educate members of Congress on the immense benefits of this relationship.”

“This year’s APEC Summit was productive for U.S. engagement in the region,” Senator Hirono said. “Strengthening America’s ties with China, and in particular extending visitor and business travel visas to 10 years, will bring new diplomatic and economic opportunities for our country.  For the State of Hawaii, we welcome this opportunity to further build relationships internationally.”

“Promoting trade with China is an important avenue to expand the markets into which American companies can compete. Currently, Louisiana is the seventh-most export-heavy state, but we can do even better. By promoting a strong U.S.-Chinese trade relationship, everyone stands to benefit,” Rep. Boustany said.

“As the two largest economies in the world, the U.S. and China cannot afford not to engage. The successes that came out of the recent APEC summit about trade, travel visas and the environment mark important progress in the relationship between our two countries. These agreements also are good news for Washington state, because increasing our ability to export local goods grows our local economy and creates jobs,” Rep. Larsen said.

On October 31st, Senator Kirk and Reps. Boustany and Larsen wrote a letter to President Obama, asking him to use his leadership to advance agreements with China that would increase tourism and travel to the United States, significantly reduce foreign investment barriers for U.S. companies in China, and make progress on the negotiation of a meaningful Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT), which would remove restrictions for U.S. investment in China and provide enhanced legal protections for U.S. companies. The U.S. and China subsequently concluded agreements to extend validity of short-term business and tourism visas from one year to 10 years; an information technology agreement that commits China to significant tariff reductions in that sector; and a commitment to accelerate BIT talks.

Then-Congressman Kirk founded the U.S.-China Working Group with Rep. Larsen in 2005, and then worked with then-Senator Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) to launch the group in the Senate in 2011. The group hosts regular member and staff briefings with academic, business and political leaders to discuss the latest in U.S.-China relations and various security and trade issues.