US state welcomes Chinese investment amid uncertainty

​By Zhang Rui
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, September 10, 2020
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Representatives of Chinese companies discuss managing risks and opportunities in Chinese outbound investment at the North American Chinese Investment Summit, held during the 2020 CIFTIS in Beijing, Sept. 6, 2020. [Photo courtesy of Tennessee China Development Center]

The state of Tennessee is continuing efforts to attract Chinese enterprises despite political and trade disputes between China and the United States. 

The North American Chinese Investment Summit, themed "Navigating the New Path of Outbound Investment for Chinese Enterprises in a VUCA World," was held during the 2020 China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS) in Beijing on Sunday. 

The term "VUCA" stands for "volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous," as those attending the event agreed that investing in North America now has risks, especially in political terms. In addition, there are other risks in the areas of asymmetric information, talents, legal affairs, financial matters, and cultural and linguistic barriers. 

Bill Lee, governor of Tennessee, sent a video message to the summit, saying: "We just want you to know that here in Tennessee we are open for business. And we understand the value of partnership and relationship, especially with foreign owned companies." 

According to the governor, Tennessee has international offices in 13 countries, as well has over a thousand foreign direct investments in the state, and a thousand foreign owned companies in Tennessee which employ 150,000 locals. 

"We understand the value of those relationships," he said. "If you're considering locating here in Tennessee, we would love to have you." 

Visitors at the booth of American tech company Qualcomm in the exhibition area of the 2020 CIFTIS, Sept. 7, 2020. [Photo/Xinhua]

Bob Rolfe, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, also spoke via video link, pointing out that Tennessee's friendly business environment which supports growth, low taxes, and loose regulation, is undoubtedly the state's primary advantage in attracting companies. Tennessee has also become known as "the top state for fiscal stability" and ranks first in the U.S. for advanced manufacturing employment growth. 

Tennessee will continue to support foreign companies, including Chinese ones, to invest and develop there in a healthy manner, Rolfe explained. 

Liu Dianxun, director of the Investment Promotion Agency of China's Ministry of Commerce, said at the summit that the economies of China and the U.S. are deeply integrated and interdependent, and the scale and benefits are very large. He hopes to work with American partners and Chinese companies to promote bilateral investment and explore service enterprises to promote cooperation between China and the U.S., and between China and Tennessee. 

Hanes Roberts, a commercial service official at the U.S. Embassy in China, expressed a warm welcome to Chinese companies investing in the United States, especially Tennessee. He also welcomed Chinese companies to sign up to "Invest in America" — the primary U.S. government mechanism to coordinate foreign direct investment promotion. 

Jointly hosted by the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development and the Investment Promotion Agency of China's Ministry of Commerce, the event was organized by the Tennessee China Development Center. 

Guests participating in the event included representatives of Canada's Ontario Government Office in Beijing, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers and other Chinese industry associations, commercial officials from several Chinese provinces, academics from Chinese universities, and managers at, Haier, Deloitte and other companies. 

Representatives from China's local governments and enterprises expressed their strong interest in investing in the U.S., recognizing such benefits as lower costs in land and taxes, significant opportunities and resources, and investment support from some states in America that meet the demands of certain Chinese enterprises. However, they also have to consider the political risks, and recent attempts by the American government to further decouple the world's two largest economies. 

One representative spoke about the welcoming attitude from American partners and U.S. state governments during the summit: "Under the shadow of the uncertain era, I feel glad and relieved  to see some hope and positive energy." 

Besides the summit, many leading American enterprises — including Tesla, Morgan Stanley and Qualcomm — attended this year's CIFTIS, displaying their latest products. 

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