Landmark Act Opens Floodgates

PNTR for China welcomed by business community

Like it or not, the annual ritual of reviewing Chinas trade status has come to an end. Yesterday, the Senate voted 83-15 in favor of normalizing relations with the communist-led country.

In exchange for lower tariffs, the Chinese have agreed to open up many industries  including agriculture and the financial sector  to outside competition and investment.

As another part of the agreement, China must permit Americans and others the right to set up distribution points within the country and allow outside participation in the development of its Internet and telecommunications sectors.

Yesterdays announcement of the partnership could not have had better timing. The deal will help foreign companies make inroads into the complex Chinese aerospace market. At the same time, the deal gives Chinese companies a broader customer base.

On a broader scale, is poised to take Americans into a wide range of industries immediately. Boasting the world's largest online database of Chinese suppliers and products, overseas buyers and trading firms, the exchange provides supplier ratings and quality assurance services as well as international trade specialists who can moderate communication and negotiation.

Of course, praise is pouring in from all sectors of the economy. The National Food Processing Association and the US-China Business Council hail the move as a victory for common sense and thoughtful judgment. According to Michael Rawdings, Microsofts regional director for Greater China, the Asian market is expected to account for 14 percent of the world's B2B e-commerce, growing at an estimated rate of 150 percent through 2004. B2B e-commerce worldwide is expected to grow to $7 trillion in the next four years, and B2B sales in Asia are expected to reach $1 trillion within the next five years. "China's WTO accession will help promote the development of a truly global Internet and worldwide electronic commerce, and allow closer contact between Chinese and American businesses and citizens," said Rawding.