Small and medium-sized enterprises have provided crucial ballast to the U.S.-China bilateral relationship for decades. While the Biden administration’s “foreign policy for the middle class” is a departure in tone from President Trump’s “America First” rhetoric, we have not yet seen substantive changes in China trade policy. With tariffs remaining in place and the path forward for SMEs uncertain, what does the future hold?

On June 10, 2021, the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, in partnership with the World Trade Centers Association, hosted a webinar with Amy Celico of Albright Stonebridge, and Gary Biehn, Ron Bracalente, and Linda Mysliwy Conlin of the World Trade Center of Greater Philadelphia, as they discussed the prospects for U.S.-China economic and trade relations.
 
Below are five key takeaways from the presentation:

  • Amy Celico: The tariffs continue to intensify competition and contention between the United States and China, specifically on trade issues. While the tariffs are unlikely to be reduced or lifted soon, engagement from the Biden administration with its Chinese counterparts is a positive and important step forward.
  • Linda Conlin: China is the fifth largest export sales market for businesses in the Greater Philadelphia area. Retaliatory tariffs from China, in addition to increased shipping and commodity costs, are hurting U.S. businesses, pushing them to look at other markets.
  • Gary Biehn: People-to-people relationships are the foundation of U.S.-China business ties, and businesses are increasingly pursuing China as a marketplace. Businesses with existing ties in China will likely continue these relationships, but it is now challenging for new companies to enter the Chinese market.
  • Ron Bracalente: U.S. businesses have benefited from visiting China to meet with local clients and interact with and learn about the market. The business relationships that have been cultivated in China over the past decades are indispensable, with significant benefits and opportunities for both countries.
  • Amy Celico: The recent executive orders demonstrate a tough-on-China stance for trade and investment. While the Biden administration is still formulating its China policy, small and medium enterprises should speak up against policies that undermine their competitiveness.

 

Gary Biehn is chair of the board of the World Trade Center of Greater Philadelphia and partner and chair of the China Business Group and International Group at White and Williams LLP. He assists clients with strategic partnerships and business opportunities in China and Europe, representing public and privately held companies, including cultural and educational institutions, manufacturers, distributors, engineering firms, and technology and energy companies and vendors.

Mr. Biehn works closely with White and Williams' law firm alliances in Philadelphia's sister city, Tianjin, China, and throughout China, as well as advisors in China and Europe, to assist businesses in forming partnerships and pursuing business opportunities in those regions. He also advises clients on U.S. and international tax and regulatory compliance, as well as internet regulation issues such as privacy, security and fair trade practices.

Mr. Biehn received his bachelor’s degree from Temple University and his law degree from Duke University.

 

Ron Bracalente is the third-generation president and CEO of privately-owned Bracalente Manufacturing Group (BMG). For more than 70 years, BMG has specialized in global manufacturing solutions with an emphasis on machining and mechanical assembly. Leveraging their concept-to-completion with advanced quality systems and lean manufacturing, BMG is specialized and certified in aerospace, agriculture, industrial, automotive, and tactical manufacturing producing components for the world’s most innovative brands.

Headquartered in Trumbauersville, PA, BMG expanded in 2009 with the opening of its second manufacturing location in Suzhou, China. Additional sourcing offices were added in Ningbo (China), Pune (India), and Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam). In 2015, the Silvene Bracalente Foundation was established to benefit trade institutions and their students by providing mentorship and financial support.

Mr. Bracalente received his bachelor’s degree in operations management at Syracuse University. He serves on the board of international trade associations and the local manufacturing resource center.

 

Amy Celico is a principal at the Albright Stonebridge Group and leads the firm’s D.C.-based China practice, assisting corporate and non-profit clients develop and expand their business in China. Previously, Ms. Celico served as senior director for China affairs at the office of the U.S. trade representative and worked at the U.S. departments of commerce and state, including as a diplomat stationed in Beijing and Shanghai. Ms. Celico serves on the board of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations and is a senior associate (non-resident) at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Ms. Celico earned a B.A. with honors in Asian studies from Mount Holyoke College and completed her M.A. in international economics and strategic studies at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. She is also a graduate of the Hopkins-Nanjing Center in China.

 

Linda Mysliwy Conlin is president of the World Trade Center of Greater Philadelphia (WTCGP). Since 2009, Ms. Conlin has increased the contribution of WTCGP to Greater Philadelphia’s economy by leading a team of professionals that has helped companies in the region generate over $2 billion in export sales. She has also forged strategic partnerships to advance the global growth of Greater Philadelphia’s leading universities and medical institutions and to expand exporter access to global expertise provided by the region’s leading banks, law, and accounting firms, and other global service providers.

Prior to joining the WTCGP, Ms. Conlin served as vice chair and first vice president of the Export-Import Bank of the United States. She currently serves on the boards of the Global Philadelphia Association, Temple University Center for Business Education and Research, and the MidAtlantic District Export Council.

Ms. Conlin holds a B.A. from the University of Massachusetts.

 

Thursday, June 10, 2021
4:00 PM to 5:15 PM EDT

Speaker(s): 
Gary Biehn
Ron Bracalente
Amy Celico
Linda Mysliwy Conlin

Venue: 
Zoom webinar

Event Video

  • Recorded 06/10/21.

     

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