Procter & Gamble CEO Takes on New Role as USCBC Board Chair
Nelson, Christina, The China Business Review
As a key player in the US-China relationship, P&G's Robert McDonald hopes closer relations between the two countries will result in economic growth and higher living standards for Chinese citizens.
With annual revenues of more than $6 billion in greater China, the Procter & Gambie Co. (P&G) is the largest consumer products company in China. Robert McDonald, the company's president, chairman, and CEO, was recently elected to lead the US-China Business Council's (USCBC) Board of Directors, and aims to build on the company's growth in China while helping to advance US-China relations in his new role. The Cincinnati-based company first entered mainland China in 1988, and it is now in the process of constructing its 11th manufacturing plant there. It has operations in Beging Shanghai; Tianjin; Guangzhou and Dongguan, Guangdong; Chengdu, Sichuan; and Nanping Fujian. P&G has operations in about 80 countries, and it sells its brands in more than 180 countries McDonald, who has been with P&G since 1980, Ms extensive experience in Ana. He previously led P&G's business in the Philippines, Japan, and South Korea in the 1990s. McDonald recently spoke with CBR Editor Christina Nelson about his new position and outlook for his tenure as USCBC board chair.
What is your short- and long-term vision for USCBC?
McDonald: The past 40 years have been marked by a remarkably stable, collaborative, and dynamic relationship between the two great nations. However, there are challenges ahead. Chief among them is to ensure that the next 40 years deliver the same track record of relative success. The stakes are high, and the outcome has enormous implications for the global economy. We need the next 40 years to be marked by our two nations working more closely together to tackle global problems and develop deeper economic bonds. As members of USCBC, we are in a unique position to help shape this relationship. We will speak openly and honestly with both US and Chinese leaders about the policies they are shaping and the language they are using. We WUl help influence agendas and communication between government officials to ensure they are effective at reducing tensions and solving mutual problems, and we will show that sanctions, protectionism, and counterproductive regulations and legislation are the wrong approach. We want to see problems addressed with solutions that advance the interests of both economies, not policies that would hinder trade, discourage future investments, or disrupt the bilateral relationship. We will develop stronger ties with our Chinese business leader counterparts with the belief that the engagement of the business community in every country makes for better informed policies and legislation.
What do you hope to achieve during your tenure as USCBC board chair?
McDonald: Clearly, one important task is to ensure we continue the progress achieved by outgoing USCBC Chair [and Coca-Cola Co. Chairman and CEO] Muhtar Kent. I hope to hand over to my successor an organization that has made further advances in US-China relations. There is real opportunity to make a big difference in the lives of the Chinese people and, in turn, in the lives of the people of the United States. It is our responsibility as members of USCBC to stand together and remind the governments and citizens of these two great nations just how important our future is together. We are no longer separated by culture or economy. We are tied together. The future growth of our nations, and our world, depends on us.
I firmly believe that it is only through more engagement, not less, that we'll continue to find common ground on key issues and build greater confidence.
How big of a role does China play in P&G's overall strategy? What are the company's future plans for China?
McDonald: Perhaps the place to start is with the importance China plays in the world economy. China has risen to become the world's second largest economy and America's third largest export market, and it continues to grow. …