Robert Hormats invites China to invest in US - if it plays fair

Undersecretary Hormats calls for level playing field in investment by mainland enterprises

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 08 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 08 December, 2012, 3:46am

The United States welcomes investments from China but has concerns about the operations of state-owned enterprises in its market, Undersecretary of State Robert Hormats said.

"We want Chinese investments. Chinese investment in the US has increased dramatically and will continue to increase," said Hormats, who recently visited China to attract investment.

This week, the US ambassador to China, Gary Locke, launched the first investment forum to promote Chinese ventures in the US, Hormats noted.

The value of mergers and acquisitions by Hong Kong and mainland Chinese companies in the US soared 93.7 per cent to US$6.96 billion in the first nine months of this year, deals data provider Mergermarket found.

Hormats played down concerns the US government is blocking Chinese investments. He said only a fraction of them went through the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, the government agency that can block foreign ventures on national security grounds.

State-owned oil giant CNOOC had US$5 billion of investments in the US, he added, stressing that "we have a good environment for Chinese investments".

In July, senator Charles Schumer urged the US government to block CNOOC's bid for Canadian oil company Nexen unless Beijing ensured US companies receive fair treatment when investing in China.

"We see unfair, market-distorting practices by China's state-owned sector," Hormats said.

"We don't object to SOEs. Our concern is, if as a result of Chinese government support for a company, that company has an artificial competitive advantage, that causes an unlevel playing field. All we're asking for is a level playing field."

China's 12th five-year plan to 2015 contained a number of positive aspects allowing the US and China to work together, Hormats said.

He cited its calls for greater reliance on clean energy, noting that the US had clean-energy companies that could meet this need.