The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan

The Asia Pacific Council of American Chambers of Commerce (APCAC) membership represents an area stretching from New Zealand and Australia in the southern hemisphere all the way north to Mongolia, and from the east to India and Pakistan, to the west to Guam—and most countries in between.

APCAC comprises 29 American chambers of commerce (AmChams) in the region. Collectively, the association represents more than 50,000 Americans working overseas, in excess of 10 million employees, and over 15,000 companies—which organizations manage over $625 billion a year in trade and investment flows into Asia–Pacific.

For the latest on APCAC’s activities, including news of a fruitful visit to Washington D.C., The Journal sat down with Jackson Cox, chairman of APCAC.

Can you tell us about APCAC’s mission?
Our mission is to support our AmChams; they are in the front lines in the region, opening markets, creating jobs and opportunities, as well as promoting the good work and commercial opportunities between the United States and other economies in Asia–Pacific.

As part of this support, APCAC facilitates three annual events. One is a regional business summit. In 2015, it was hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore; next year it will be the AmCham in Beijing, China.

We also do an annual policy Doorknock in Washington, D.C.—we concluded that in late June. This is when chamber leaders from the region go to Washington and lobby on important regional issues.

The third area of activity is the annual meeting of executive directors from all member AmChams who gather at a retreat so they can share best practices. Our aim is to ensure all AmChams put their best foot forward in serving their members. We also make sure members receive the best representation they can from us.

What are some of the major issues APCAC is dealing with?
In this year’s D.C. Doorknock, we pushed for Congressional approval of the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation, which leads to supporting the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement (TPP). We were thrilled that TPA received Congressional approval while we were in D.C.

We believe TPP offers a great chance for a high-standard trade agreement that will set a new bar for trade between the US and the 11 Asia–Pacific partners that are involved. We also support TPP because it is an aspirational agreement, which means other countries can join, thereby expanding the market of participants.

APCAC has also lobbied for the re-authorization of the US Export-Import Bank (US Ex-Im Bank). Unfortunately, that authorization has expired in late June. But we hope that Congress will have found a solution, and approve long-term authorization, very soon.

The APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC) is now available for American business travelers in the region, but more work remains to make ABTC fully functional for American travelers, so we continue to work on that.

We also lobbied on the financial reporting requirements that American companies and citizens who hold foreign bank accounts must fulfill as a result of legislation passed in the United States with all the right intentions, but that have become burdensome.
And this burden is not only on American citizens, but also on any bank that has American account holders, or a foreign company that has an American on their board of directors or among their shareholders.

The other issue has to do with how Americans abroad are taxed—the United States is one of only a few countries that will tax its citizens regardless of where they live, and again, this means Americans can’t compete on a level playing field around the world.

Can you say something about your visit to Japan?
I’m here to talk about APCAC to members of the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ), and to find ways in which APCAC can be a more helpful and strategic partner to the ACCJ. I’m here to listen, too, to members and their companies as a big part of APCAC’s work is telling stories of the good work that they are doing. We need to tell those stories in Japan, the region, and back in the United States.

Can you tell us something about the American Chamber of Commerce in Mongolia (AmCham Mongolia)?
Fours years ago, I founded AmCham Mongolia and currently serve as chairman of its board of directors. At the time, Mongolia was the fastest-growing economy in the world, and I thought it made sense that there should be an AmCham there.

Over the course of the past four years, AmCham Mongolia has expanded and has five full-time employees and about 50 commercial members—this means we now look and sound and act like a real AmCham.

For more on APCAC, please visit:
http://apcac.org/
For more on AmCham Mongolia, please visit: http://amcham.mn/