Chinese get tips on US investing

Updated: 2015-05-09 05:23

By AMY HE in New York(China Daily USA)

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Chinese get tips on US investing

Zhang Qiyue (left), Chinese consul general in New York, with Jeffrey Shafer, founder of JRShafer Insight and former assistant secretary at the US Treasury, exchanging remarks on Friday at a luncheon hosted by the China General Chamber of Commerce in New York. [AMY HE / CHINA DAILY]

Chinese investors looking to do business in the United States need to "approach carefully" and keep in mind winning over local and state governments to succeed, said Jeff Shafer, former vice-chairman of global banking at Citigroup and a member of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

"The volume both in terms of the number of transactions and the numbers of dollars (of Chinese transactions) is very strong and it shows that the US is open," Shafer said on Friday at a luncheon hosted by the China General Chamber of Commerce. "But I think there are two things that are important: If you're going to make a visible investment, you want to approach it carefully. You want to recruit friends in America who are going to support this, people who are going to get jobs out of this, people who are going to do other things. You'll want the support of state and local governments."

The strong volume of Chinese transactions in the US shows the Obama administration "has been and continues to be" open and encouraging of Chinese investment in the US economy, said Shafer, who also served as assistant secretary at the US Treasury. He is now the founder of JRShafer Insights, a consultancy.

The luncheon was held for members of the China General Chamber of Commerce, comprised predominantly of Chinese companies doing business in the US.

Zhang Qiyue, Chinese consul general in New York, told the group that that it's important for Chinese companies and businesses to "really get to know" the US economy. But, she said, American often don't know about China's contributions.

"Some of you mentioned that we have large investments from the Chinese in this society, but not many people know about it, or people don't see the overall picture," she said. "It is important to increase the understanding of Americans of the Chinese contribution to this country, and together we can promote an even better environment for the general relationship between our two countries, and also for the upcoming visit of President Xi Jinping."

Xi will pay his first formal state visit to the US in September at the invitation of President Barack Obama.

Shafer said that he is a long-time supporter of the Bilateral Investment Treaty and that he is both encouraged and discouraged by the process the two countries have made so far.

"I have been encouraged by the fact that the process is moving forward, and discouraged by the fact that we haven't really gotten to the critical point yet of having a serious negotiable negative list from the Chinese side on the table, and hoping we'll get to that soon," he said. "I think that sort of institutional framework for dealing with investment would be very important to this."

Despite the US economy's sluggish growth in the first quarter of 2015 — 0.2 percent for the first three months of the year, according to the Commerce Department, and which has been attributed to a rough winter in the Northeast — China should be confident in doing business in the country, Shafer said. He said that the 0.2 percent isn't indicative of larger US growth trends and that the US economy is ultimately on a "sustainable path" of growth.