Chinese companies are expected to employ between 200,000 and 400,000 Americans by 2020, as cumulative Chinese investment in the US tripled in the past five years, a new study has shown.
New York-based Rhodium Group Llc found that total foreign direct investment from Beijing rocketed from $280 million in 2004 to over $22 billion in 2012, with the figure increasing threefold since 2008.
Last year alone, saw $6.5 billion worth of new investment, a level expected to be at least repeated again this year. China has remained one of the few sources of investment into the US that is growing, contributing greatly to the country’s economic growth, said Rhodium.
Brenda Foster, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai, told the 2013 “Chinese FDI into the US Conference” on Friday that US state governments, through their economic development arms and led by local governors, are clearly vying for Chinese capital with a view toward creating more local jobs,
“I can tell you from my personal experience, that US states and cities are very interested in Chinese FDI to support their local economies,” she told delegates, revealing the Chamber had hosted governors from over a dozen American states last year, as they visited China looking for investment.
Shao Ning, chief executive of the Center of American States, which represents eight US states in China, predicts that direct investment is likely to play an even more prominent role than trade in promoting bilateral relations between the two sides in future.
“Chinese companies gain enormously by investing in the huge US market, raising their technology levels and their brand awareness. Such investment reaches local American communities and helps forge a profound, positive impression of Chinese enterprises in the country,” said Shao.
Eugene Qian, managing director and head of corporate and investment banking at Citigroup Inc China, said that a growing number of Chinese firms are realizing that green field investment in particular – in which a company begins a new venture in another country with the construction of new facilities as well as creating new jobs – can help them avoid potential trade barriers, get immediate access to local customers, and deliver higher profit margins than operating locally.
While certain foreign investment deals in industries deemed as “sensitive” are often politicized and ultimately blocked, those in the American business community say they believe that regulatory issues should not bar investment from China.
Shao added that typically less than 10 percent of Chinese transactions went through any formal national security review process by the US Treasury-led Committee on Foreign Investment, and even the vast majority of those which do, are approved.
US delegates at Friday’s event agreed that the current setbacks being encountered by telecom companies Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and ZTE Corp are likely to be temporary, as long as the US government stops sending contradictory signals that might deter Chinese investors in the long run.
To avoid further conflict with investors such as Huawei, Shao suggested a bilateral investment protection pact should be sought by the two parties.
Robert Theleen, chairman of AmCham Shanghai and CEO of private equity firm ChinaVest Ltd, said the two cases were complicated, simply because of the sensitivity of the industry.
“It’s safe to say that technology has overtaken the ability of political leaders, and so they have tended to make conservative decisions,” he said.
But he added that such conflicts do not reflect the current robust business investment environment in the US, where many Chinese enterprises thrive and enjoy overall success.
APCO Worldwide Inc, a US business strategy firm, recently completed a survey of 50 Chinese business executives, and found 94 percent considered their experience in the US market as successful.