U.S.-China Administrative Licensing Dialogue

On May 20–21, ACUS Attorney Advisors Reeve T. Bull and Amber Williams participated in a conference convening regulatory experts from both the United States and China to discuss administrative licensing reform. 

The following guest post from Department of Commerce Attorney Gwenann Manseau provides an overview of the conference. 

Ms. Manseau works in the Office of Chief Counsel for International Commerce at the U.S. Department of Commerce.  This post is the result of the authors' independent research and does not necessarily represent the views of the Administrative Conference or its Members, or the United States.

On May 20 and 21, the Office of the Chief Counsel for International Commerce hosted the third Administrative Licensing Dialogue in the Commerce Research Library. The Dialogue is held with China’s Ministry of Commerce under the Commercial Law Working Group of the Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT). Previous Dialogues provided a venue in which government licensing and permitting experts from both countries exchanged information on key topics of administrative licensing law and practice; the second Dialogue was opened to businesses from the United States and China, to allow government entities to hear their concerns on licensing directly. This third event involved experts from the government, academic, and business communities and focused specifically on an aspect of administrative licensing crucial to businesses: judicial and administrative review of government licensing actions.

The U.S. delegation was led by Deputy Chief Counsel for International Commerce Daniel Hylton, and was comprised of experts in licensing from multiple U.S. agencies: Reeve Bull and Amber Williams, attorneys at the Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS); Carol Ann Siciliano, Associate General Counsel in the Cross-Cutting Issues Law Office of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); and the Honorable Kathie Stein, Judge on the EPA Environmental Appeals Board; as well as representatives of the U.S. business community including Stephanie Henry of the U.S.-China Business Council; Julia Howe of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; and U.S. businesses operating in China. China's delegation was led by Deputy Director General Tang Wenhong, Treaty and Law Division of the Ministry of Commerce. Key presenters included academic expert on administrative licensing Professor Yu An of Tsinghua University, Director Li Wenzhu of China’s Ministry of Commerce, and numerous representatives from Chinese businesses operating in the United States. The Dialogue was open to the public and was attended by a small group of academics, businesspeople, and government officials.

This third Administrative Licensing Dialogue was marked by extensive conversation between the experts and audience regarding both theoretical and technical aspects of administrative law practice and reform in both countries. The U.S. presenters laid out the Administration’s efforts to simplify licensing of infrastructure projects, EPA’s permitting process, and EPA’s appeals process, noting especially ways of appropriately handling conflicts of interest and confidential business information. China’s business representatives asked questions regarding the barriers they face seeking licenses at both the federal and state level; how the government deals with conflicts of interest and potential fraud; and how the EPA Environmental Appeals Board maintains its independence from improper influence. ACUS and EPA representatives provided extensive responses on these issues to help China better understand our system. The Chinese presentations underscored the enormous efforts underway in China to overhaul administrative law in general, and its licensing system in particular.  Several U.S. and Chinese academics helped elucidate the complexities of Chinese law for the audience, and asked questions regarding the importance of judicial review and administrative reconsideration systems to foreign companies. In general, there appeared to be frank and cordial discussions of complex administrative law issues that, from feedback received, was useful to both our U.S. business representatives and academics in attendance.

Both countries agreed to continue our JCCT Commercial Law Working Group discussions on administrative law topics of interest to our business communities. If you have questions about the program, please contact the Office of the Chief Counsel for International Commerce at mailto:occic@doc.gov or (202) 482-0937.

ACUS Attorney-Advisor Reeve Bull speaks at the conference.

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