by Xinhua writers Gao Pan, Zheng Qihang, Jiang Yujuan
Location and logistical advantages, tax breaks, low costs of doing business, high tech innovation …these are the selling points U.S. economic development officials tout to Chinese investors at the Exhibit Hall of the Gaylord National Convention Center in Maryland, where over 2,600 participants gather for the second Select USA Investment Summit.
China tops the list of delegations for the Summit with about 150 investors from the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong, becoming the fastest growing source of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) for the United States in the past five years, according to the U.S. Commerce Department.
It is no wonder that U.S. state and local governments have ramped up efforts to attract more Chinese investment to their states and cities with tax breaks, streamlined permit applications and other incentives.
Sindy Yeh, senior manager of Arlington Economic Development, told Xinhua that 65 Chinese companies were invited for an Odyssey dinner cruise on Sunday to explore the potential investment opportunities in Arlington, Virginia, an urban county close to Washington D.C.
There has been no investment from China in Arlington so far, said Yeh, who expects Chinese companies to invest in its information communication and technology (ICT) and real estate sectors.
A research report released by the consulting firm Rhodium Group showed that the ICT sector in the United States attracted 48 percent of total FDI from China in 2014, and the second biggest sector was real estate. Auto, food, pharmaceuticals and biotech were also important industries Chinese companies were interested in.
Randi Tveitaraas Jack, the International Development Manager of Kansas Department of Commerce, told Xinhua that AMC Entertainment, the second-largest U.S. theater chain acquired by China’s Dalian Wanda Group, moved its headquarters to Kansas from Missouri because Kansas provided financial incentives to the AMC.
Maryland is luring Chinese investors to the United States through academic and research institutions. Brian Castleberry, international projects manager of the Maryland Department of Business & Economic Development (DBED), told Xinhua that the University of Maryland (UM) International Incubator, a partnership between the UM and the DBED, has helped Chinese companies set up small business development and R&D operations in the United States.
The mission of the International Incubator is to connect Maryland and international companies for successful joint ventures through a targeted array of business services, state-of the-art facilities, and world-class resources.
Building a strong relationship with China could also help attract more investments to the United States. Brian Connors, China Business Development Manager at Michigan Economic Development Corporation, told Xinhua that Michigan Governor Rick Snyder is very committed to build a strong relation with China and has led investment mission to China every year in the past four years.
In his second term as governor of Michigan, Snyder will continue to travel to China annually to strengthen the relationship, said Connors, adding that more than 100 Chinese auto- related companies have established operations in Michigan and he is making plans for Snyder’s trip to China’s regional automotive centers this year.
South Carolina has also done a good job in bringing Chinese money to the southern state, as China has become the second largest investment source for the state. There are 14 Chinese manufacturing companies currently investing in South Carolina, of which five came on board in the last three years, according to the commerce department of South Carolina.
“We have seen Chinese overseas investments boom in the last few years,” John Ling, managing director of Asia office of South Carolina’s commerce department, told Xinhua, adding that the state government has taken a series of measures to bring and retain more Chinese investments.
South Carolina has established its Asia office in Shanghai, China and recruited staff that understand both the U.S. and Chinese business environment to help Chinese companies know more about investing in the state, Ling said.
Chinese overseas investment boom is a quite new phenomenon and many Chinese companies’ knowledge about the U.S. market is still limited. Therefore, bringing Chinese investors to have a real trip to the U.S. will be much helpful to change their minds about investing in the United States, Li noted.
After more than ten years of contact with Chinese investors, the state government and economic development organizations have gradually grasped the way the Chinese do business as well as China ‘s political and economic situation, which help South Carolina to attract Chinese investments more smoothly, Lin said. Enditem