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US urged to open the door wider to China's investment
【2017-06-13】

The US government should open its door wider to Chinese investments and Chinese companies have to further their understanding of US law and regulatory compliance as foreign direct investment between the world's top two economies has been on a rapid rise, experts said.

"The US government should be more open and inclusive to Chinese investments, as Chinese companies come to the US with high expectations for an open and inclusive market," said Xu Chen, chairman of the China General Chamber of Commerce and president and CEO of Bank of China USA.

"That is one of the major factors that makes US attractive to foreign companies," he said after launching a new survey on Chinese companies in the United States.

Over half of Chinese businesses are concerned with Washington's regulatory oversight of foreign companies despite their growing presence in the world's biggest economy, according to the CGCC's 2017 Annual Business Survey Report on Chinese groups in the US.

Some 53 percent of Chinese companies with businesses in the US believe that the current Trump administration will "tighten its general oversight of foreign companies", the survey said. In addition, reviews by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States remain a concern for Chinese companies. A quarter of the companies surveyed considered its reviews to be "politicized and opaque".

"There is much distrust and misunderstanding about Chinese investments and of China in the US market," Xu said.

Private Chinese companies account for over 70 percent of current Chinese direct investment in the US and the trend will continue as Chinese State-owned enterprises "have been unfairly treated here," he said.

The cumulative value of US foreign direct investment deals in China reached more than $240 billion by end of 2016, while cumulative Chinese FDI in the United States totaled $110 billion by the end of last year, according to a joint report released in May by the Rhodium Group and the National Committee on US-China Relations.

In 2016, Chinese companies invested a record $46 billion in the US, tripling the amount in 2015 and representing a 10-fold increase compared with five years ago, the report said. It also found that about 79 percent of the total Chinese investments in the US were made by private companies.

"Chinese investments in the US will increase even faster and further benefit the US economy and job creation if misapprehensions about Chinese State-owned enterprises are corrected here in the United States," Xu said.

The Rhodium Group and NCUSCR report found that in the last seven years, employment by Chinese-owned firms in the US jumped ninefold to 140,000 jobs last year. By the end of 2016, all 50 states and 98 percent of congressional districts hosted operations of Chinese companies.

Some US politicians tend to think Chinese State-owned enterprises come to the US for "some political purpose rather than simply to make money", Xu said.

"I sincerely hope these friends get to know more about the massive changes in China over the years in terms of economic management and overseas investment," Xu said.

"In contrast, US academia knows China so well and supports opening doors wider to Chinese investors."

The US and Chinese "economies are highly complementary to each other, and the bilateral ties have been proven mutually beneficial," Xu said.

He added that despite the distrust and suspicion about Chinese investments in the United States, the two governments would make every effort to wrap up the negotiations for the long-awaited US-China Bilateral Investment Treaty, which would create more transparent rules for approving investments in both countries.

According to the CGCC survey, despite challenges, 87 percent of Chinese companies will reinvest all or most of their US profits in US operations, as they are committed to long-term investment. Eighty-six percent of companies expect their US revenue to grow in the next three to five years.

Chinese companies are making long-term investments in the US and they are unlikely to change their policies and strategies in the face of temporary uncertainties and difficulties, Ji Li, an associate professor of law at Rutgers University in Newark, and co-author of the survey said.

"Yet Chinese banks and companies have to further their understanding of US law and regulatory compliance, seeking advice from local consulting companies including law firms and accounting firms in making deals, and resorting to lobby groups for persuading politicians to support related deals."