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Sunday, Nov 29, 2020

China tells US firms they’re still welcome in country

China tells US firms they’re still welcome in country

Commerce vice-minister Wang Shouwen tells American firms he hopes they can play a ‘bridging role’ at a time of rising tensions.
China has stepped up its efforts to reassure American businesses, saying that Beijing still welcomes their presence in the country.

Last week the vice-minister for commerce Wang Shouwen took part in an online symposium with delegates from members of the American Chamber of Commerce, including General Motors, Intel and Starbucks.

“Currently China-US relations are facing a complex and grim situation,” Wang said, according to a statement published by the ministry on Friday.

“We hope the US business community will continue to play a bridging role between the two countries.”

Wang told the US business delegates – which also included Amway, Mars and Corteva – that the Chinese government will produce a list of key foreign-funded projects and provide special help in terms of production and investment.

He also said the commerce ministry would show concerns from foreign investors were being taken seriously with a new rule for handling complaints.

In addition, China is also amending a regulation regarding foreign investments in Chinese listed companies to make it easier for foreigners to buy equity stakes.

The previous week, the National Development and Reform Commission, the country’s top economic planning agency, held similar talks with the China-US Business Council.

Delegates from American companies, including ADM, Cisco, ExxonMobil, FedEx, Warner Bros, Xcoal, General Motors, and PepsiCo, were told by Ning Jizhe, a vice-chairman of the commission, that China always welcomed more investment from American companies.

Ning said the US business community should “seize the opportunities brought by China’s booming economy and wider opening-up”.

The chamber of commerce and the business council have not commented on the meetings.

As the rivalry between China and US heats up on the economic, technological and geopolitical fronts, Beijing is keen to keep American business on side to avoid a total confrontation and protect its place in global supply chains.

Trade and investment flows between the world’s two largest economies remains relatively strong despite the tensions.

Official Chinese figures show the country stepped up its purchases of US farm products in the first half of the year, while the US was a “major source” of foreign direct investment.

In the first six months of 2020, foreign direct investment from the US to China rose by 6 per cent from a year earlier in yuan terms, according to the commerce ministry, even though overall FDI inflows had fallen by 1.3 per cent in that period.

But there are signs that economic decoupling is taking place.

AmCham’s annual survey, carried out before the coronavirus outbreak, found that a third of businesses planned to delay or cut investments this year, the highest number since 2013. It also found a further 16 per cent were planning to get part of their value chains out of China.

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