China, keen to invest in US, sends largest delegation as interest grows

Updated: 2015-03-24 12:42

By Chen Weihua in National Harbor, Maryland(China Daily USA)

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 China, keen to invest in US, sends largest delegation as interest grows

From left: Chinese Ambassador to the US Cui Tiankai, former US Ambassador to China Gary Locke, US Ambassador to China Max Baucus and Dalian Wanda Group Chairman Wang Jianlin attend a reception organized by the China General Chamber of Commerce - USA at the Chinese Embassy in Washington on Monday evening. [Provided to China Daily]

Chinese investors are taking much of the limelight as the US government goes all out to attract foreign direct investment (FDI).

The second SelectUSA Investment Summit, which kicked off Monday at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center at the National Harbor in Maryland, had 150 delegates from the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong, the largest delegation by far. And that did not include the 80 delegates from Taiwan.

China is still not among the top 15 largest sources of FDI in the US, but it has been the fastest-growing source in the past five years, with annual growth of 41 percent, according to the US Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Vinai Thummallapally, executive director of SelectUSA, the first government-wide initiative to draw foreign investment to the US, said that with such a growth rate, it won't be long before China becomes one of the top 10 sources.

Dalian Wanda Group Chairman Wang Jianlin, whose company acquired AMC Entertainment in 2012, was sitting prominently at the table closest to the podium, where US President Barack Obama and Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker spoke on Monday.

Wang told China Daily that he was pleased to attend the meeting, where he hoped to find more cooperation.

Former US Ambassador to China Gary Locke, also a former commerce secretary, was at the same table with Wang.

"I am very pleased that we have such a large delegation from China," said Locke, who led the Chinese delegation to the first SelectUSA Investment Summit in 2013.

Some other big Chinese companies, such as Alibaba Group Holdings Ltd, also were present at the summit, which lasts two days.

Sun Jiong, vice-president and special assistant to the CEO, said the company's record initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange last year helped Americans understand Alibaba better. He said many US states are seeking cooperation with Alibaba, whose $25 billion IPO was the largest in history.

Sun attributed interest in Alibaba to business opportunities in the Chinese market. "So we are grateful to the opportunities presented by the Chinese market," he said.

Small- and medium-sized Chinese companies also are showing more interest in tapping the US market, according to Luan Shaohu, vice-president of the China Association of Small and Medium Enterprises.

Luan attended the summit with a group of Chinese entrepreneurs, who are members of his association. For some businesspeople, it was their first trip to the US.

"They have shown increasing interest in 'going global' and I believe with better guidance, their business endeavors will be even brighter," Luan said.

Luan had hoped that Obama, who spoke Monday afternoon, would meet some of the Chinese delegates.

Describing SelectUSA as a major priority for his administration, Obama expressed his excitement to see the gathering doubled in size compared with the first summit 17 months ago. The second summit has 2,600 delegates.

"And today, I want to talk about why America is not only the right place for you to invest, but why America is the safest, strongest, smartest place for you to invest than we've been in a long time," Obama told the audience.

Obama announced the easing of the process to obtain L-1B visas, which he said would allow "corporations to temporarily move workers from a foreign office to a US office in a faster and simpler way".

"What's great about SelectUSA is that everybody wins," he said.

"Communities that welcome foreign investors see more jobs and economic activity, and they can reach more potential investors," Obama said. "The companies that invest in America have access to the largest market in the world - and it's a market that is strong and stable, and growing."

"When your international firms locate operations in the United States, our workers benefit, as more than 5.8 million Americans go to work each day in high-paying jobs supported by foreign direct investment," said Commerce Secretary Pritzker.

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and Secretary of State John Kerry will speak on Tuesday.

US business leaders voiced support for the summit. A videotaped speech by Warren Buffett, CEO and chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc, was shown in which he said the US economy and investment climate are tailwinds for his companies' successes.

China, keen to invest in US, sends largest delegation as interest grows

David Rubenstein, co-CEO of the Carlyle Group, touted the investment opportunities in the US but cautioned that people should be prepared for long haul instead of an immediate return.

According to the New York-based Rhodium Group, Chinese FDI in the US reached $12 billion in 2014, topping the $10 billion mark for the second year in a row.

A Jan 29 United Nations report said that China eclipsed the US as the top destination for FDI in 2014.

China and the US are speeding up negotiations for a Bilateral Investment Treaty that both believe would further solidify their economic ties.

Some Chinese businesses still are concerned about being targeted by the US government for alleged national security issues, subjecting them to reviews of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).

A House Intelligence Committee report in October 2012 said that Chinese telecom- equipment giants Huawei and ZTE posed a national security threat to the US.

Sun Wansong, an official from China's Ministry of Commerce, told reporters on Monday that he told the US side during a discussion that he hoped the US will treat Chinese investment in a fairer manner and create a better climate for Chinese companies investing in the US.

Dong Leshuo and Sheng Yang contributed to this story.

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