Healthier Chinese Investment in US Facilitated

CHINA & US - China's recent move to tighten the oversight of outbound investment helps promote healthier and more balanced investment in the United States, industry leaders have said.
calendar icon 29 May 2017
clock icon 4 minute read

A latest report on investment relations between the United States and China showed while China's US investments in 2016 tripled the amount seen in 2015, it largely focused on industries like real estate and hospitality.

Chinese investment in real estate reached a new record high, whereas investment in US agriculture and energy remains small, according to the report released last Thursday.

Business executives attributed an imbalanced mix of industries to irrational and illegal outbound investment activities that Chinese authorities have been working hard to curb.

They observed speculative cases, illegal transfer of assets, and fake transactions under the guise of outbound investment.

"Some newly established firms, which had produced nothing, were providing large sums of outbound investment. Other companies with a small amount of registered capital are making huge investments overseas," said Tu Guangshao, vice chairman and president of China Investment Corporation.

He added that such investments clearly have nothing to do with their company business and regulations to rein in such activities are necessary.

In January, after noting an "irrational tendency" in outbound investment, Chinese authorities set stricter rules and advised companies to make their investment decisions more carefully.

Overseas merger and acquisition (M&A) activities are like "a rose with thorns" and business enterprises need to be "cautious," said Pan Gongsheng, director of China's State Administration of Foreign Exchange.

After half a year, stricter supervision has already yielded positive results.

"Chinese investment in the United States will be healthier and more closely connected to domestic economic restructuring," said Xu Chen, chairman of China General Chamber of Commerce - USA.

Echoing Mr Xu's remarks, Ni Pin, president of Wanxiang America Corporation, said: "Chinese companies invest more rationally in the United States under current rules, which may even cool down the US asset markets a little."

Looking forward, China is willing to work with the United States to realize balanced development of trade and investment.

Mr Xu is optimistic that the two countries will increase trade cooperation under the 100-day action plan, which has already achieved initial results in agriculture, energy, financial services and investment.

Under the plan, China will allow the import of US beef and the United States will import poultry from China. The United States expects China and other partners to import liquefied natural gas and China will allow wholly foreign-funded financial services to provide credit ratings in China.

"US beef exported to China does not have to be produced by US enterprises. Chinese investors could acquire plants to process agricultural products in the United States and sell products to Chinese consumers," said Mr Xu, who is also president and CEO of Bank of China USA.

According to Mr Xu, Chinese enterprises are also very interested in investing in the natural gas industry, not only with M&A, but also green field investment.

"It's a win-win situation. The US market offers low-cost resources such as natural gas and land, while the Chinese market has a large demand for products like methanol," said Mr Xu.

Meanwhile, Chinese business executives acknowledged inconvenience brought by tightened regulations.

"Companies may have experienced inconvenience when scheduling their investment under tightened regulation, but people should understand authorities need time to improve cross-border capital management," Mr Xu said.

He added the increasingly globalized Chinese economy will lead to larger cross-border capital flow and pose management challenges.

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