Chicago booms with Chi­nese in­vest­ment

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By HONG XIAO and ZHANG YUAN in Chicago

The Chi­nese Con­sulate Gen­eral in Chicago is mak­ing an ef­fort to boost economic and trade co­op­er­a­tion in the US Midwest.

Di­rect in­vest­ment by China in the US reached $15 bil­lion in 2015, with al­most 13,000 jobs cre­ated.

Ac­cord­ing to the 2015 IBM Global Location Trends re­port, the Chicago metropoli­tan area leads the US in for­eign di­rect in­vest­ment (FDI) for the third year in a row. The re­port also noted that FDI in Chicago cre­ated 4,800 jobs, the sec­ond- high­est num­ber among all US metropoli­tan ar­eas.

From 2000 to 2015, Chicago has at­tracted to­tal in­vest­ment of more than $3 bil­lion from China.

“Chi­nese in­vest­ment has made a great con­tri­bu­tion in cre­at­ing jobs and in­creas­ing tax rev­enue, which plays quite a pos­i­tive role in boost­ing the lo­cal econ­omy,” said Hong Lei, China’s con­sul gen­eral in Chicago, who took of­fice in July.

The Chi­nese Con­sulate Gen­eral in Chicago cov­ers nine states, most of which are in the Midwest: Colorado, Kansas, Illi­nois, In­di­ana, Iowa, Michi­gan, Min­nesota, Mis­souri and Wis­con­sin.

Hong has vis­ited all nine states and said he is glad to see the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the con­sular re­gion and China is strong, and that ex­changes and co­op­er­a­tion on the econ­omy, trade, cul­ture and ed­u­ca­tion have yielded sub­stan­tial re­sults.

In 2010, China Avi­a­tion Au­to­mo­tive Sys­tems Hold­ings Ltd (AVIC) com­pleted the ac­qui­si­tion of Nex­teer Au­to­mo­tive in Michi­gan by tak­ing a 100 per­cent stake jointly with PCM China.

Af­ter the ac­qui­si­tion, Nex­teer shares were suc­cess­fully listed in Hong Kong in 2013. The em­ployee ranks have in­creased from 3,000 at the time of ac­qui­si­tion to 5,000. Fac­tory out­put is also ex­pand­ing.

Hong af­firmed the growth of Nex­teer dur­ing his visit to the com­pany in Au­gust. He said Nex­teer has made a con­tri­bu­tion to the economic de­vel­op­ment of Michi­gan, and it demon­strates the mutual ben­e­fit and win­win sce­nario of Sino-US economic and trade co­op­er­a­tion.

In Novem­ber, Hong vis­ited Nan­shan Amer­ica (an alu­minum cast­ing and ex­tru­sion fa­cil­ity in Lafayette, In­di­ana), which was a green­field in­vest­ment made by China in 2011.

The com­pany has since pro­vided more than 200 jobs in the state.

“I have met sev­eral Amer­i­can work­ers in their plants, and they told me they re­ally en­joy work­ing in the plant,” Hong said.

Hong said Chi­nese en­ter­prises in the Midwest are mak­ing pos­i­tive con­tri­bu­tions to the re­vi­tal­iza­tion of lo­cal economies.

“In re­cent years, China’s cap­i­tal mar­ket is rel­a­tively vi­brant, which is pos­i­tive in go­ing out. And the US is just an im­por­tant for­eign in­vest­ment des­ti­na­tion, whether for green­field in­vest­ment or merg­ers and ac­qui­si­tions.

“So the over­all trend is mov­ing for­ward,” said Hong, a for­mer For­eign Min­istry spokesman and deputy di­rec­tor gen­eral of the De­part­ment of In­for­ma­tion.

Many Chi­nese en­ter­prises made in­vest­ments in the au­to­mo­bile in­dus­try in Michi­gan, build­ing auto parts fac­to­ries or tech­nol­ogy in­no­va­tion cen­ters.

Hong said small- and medium-sized en­ter­prises in the US Midwest have a strong in­ter­est in economic and trade co­op­er­a­tion with China. The prob­lem is some­times their cap­i­tal is lim­ited, so the chal­lenge is how to grab good op­por­tu­ni­ties and op­er­ate busi­ness in China within their ca­pac­ity.

On­line chan­nels have cre­ated a fa­vor­able con­di­tion to fur­ther open up the sit­u­a­tion.

The Chicago Con­sulate Gen­eral is now ac­tively pro­mot­ing the build­ing of an on­line plat­form for trade and in­vest­ment com­mu­ni­ca­tion, so the two sides can com­mu­ni­cate di­rectly on­line, which pro­motes mutual un­der­stand­ing and re­duces travel costs, he ex­plained.

Hong re­peat­edly pointed out the sig­nif­i­cance of the Mech­a­nism of Joint Work­ing Group for Trade and In­vest­ment Co­op­er­a­tion be­tween Chi­nese prov­inces and US states in boost­ing sub­na­tional economic and trade co­op­er­a­tion.

Since be­ing set up in 2012 by China’s Min­istry of Com­merce, the mech­a­nism has been es­tab­lished in 25 prov­inces and cities in China and seven states and cities in the US, cov­er­ing Cal­i­for­nia, Chicago, Iowa, Texas, Michi­gan, Washington state and New York.

“The co­op­er­a­tion mech­a­nism is de­signed to give play to the ini­tia­tive of sub­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion, to take ad­van­tage of their re­sources to strengthen trade and in­vest­ment co­op­er­a­tion be­tween China and the US,” said Hong

“Any states or cities in­ter­ested in this mech­a­nism, we sin­cerely in­vite them to par­tic­i­pate in it, to ben­e­fit from it,” said Hong.

“Sub­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion is a driver of China-US re­la­tions,” Hong added.

China-US trade hit $569 bil­lion last year, and China now is the big­gest trad­ing part­ner of the US and also its fastest­grow­ing ex­port mar­ket.

Hong said that if any prob­lems arise, the two sides should re­solve them through ra­tio­nal com­mu­ni­ca­tion and con­sul­ta­tion.

Hong said that be­cause bi­lat­eral re­la­tions now have a good foun­da­tion, it’s nec­es­sary to con­tin­u­ously serve the com­mon in­ter­ests of both na­tions to pro­vide more ben­e­fits for cit­i­zens.

In re­cent years, China’s cap­i­tal mar­ket is rel­a­tively vi­brant.” Hong Lei China’s con­sul gen­eral in Chicago

Hong Lei, China’s con­sul gen­eral in Chicago

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Chicago metropoli­tan area leads the US in for­eign di­rect in­vest­ment for the third year in a row, ac­cord­ing to the 2015 IBM Global Location Trends re­port.

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