For the first time, Chinese investments in the US were larger than US investments in China, announced the US Chamber of Commerce in April. About time, writes China consulent Joel Backaler in TealeafNation. “Americans worry that China is buying up the world. But there’s another, better way for U.S. authorities, businesses, and citizens to approach the influx: Embrace it.”
First, Chinese firms bring a great deal of cash to the table. Chinese global outward investment reached $85 billion in 2013, $14 billion of which ended up in the United States. A potent example illustrating the positive side of Chinese investment can be found in Michigan-based automotive steering firm Nexteer. During the global financial crisis, Nexteer CEO Robert Remenar targeted Chinese investors for his faltering firm. In 2010, he found a new owner in Chinese company AVIC Automotive, a state-owned firm, which bought Nexteer for $465 million. Under the new ownership, Nexteer’s CEO retained his entire management team and his decision-making authority, and was able to revitalize the company in a few short years. In December 2013, Nexteer’s president and global chief operating officer, Laurent Bresson, told local media that the firm was in “extremely rapid growth mode.” In the two years following the deal, Nexteer invested more than $220 million in its Saginaw, Michigan operations, where the firm remains headquartered today.
In addition to pumping capital into cash-strapped U.S. firms, Chinese companies can also fuel job growth and add valuable tax dollars at the state and federal levels. In November 2000, Danish shipping giant Maersk Line ended its service to the Port of Boston, jeopardizing 10,000 local jobs. By April 2001, port director Mike Leone traveled to Beijing to meet with the management team of the China Ocean Shipping (COSCO). His negotiations proved successful in March 2002 when COSCO filled the void left by Maersk and opened direct service from China to Boston, not only saving those 10,000 jobs, but also creating additional ones through a $250 million investment into an expanded container handling facility.
Chinese auto parts firm Wanxiang America has also saved thousands of jobs for the U.S. economy. By January 2013, the firm saved more than 3,000 U.S. positions through multiple acquisitions of foundering U.S. companies. Headquartered in Elgin, Illinois, Wanxiang America has become a $2.5 billion corporation since its founder, Pin Ni, started the U.S. subsidiary out of his home in 1994.
Earlier this week Joel Backaler published his book China Goes West: Everything You Need to Know About Chinese Companies Going Global.
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