By Hallie Busta
Chinese business executives and government officials are looking to set up shop in the Midwest, China’s Commerce Minister Chen Deming said in a speech Friday in Chicago.
Calling the region a window of opportunity for Chinese investment, Chen announced a new focus on partnerships with U.S. small and medium enterprises at the U.S.-China Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum and Signing Ceremony that brought a Chinese delegation of more than 300 to the city.
We will find ways to try to expand U.S. exports to China and help Chinese companies come over to the U.S. to invest, Chen said.
The deals signed during the Chinese delegation visits to several U.S. cities are expected to increase U.S. exports by more than $45 billion and boost China investment in the United States by several billion dollars, said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke.
Small- and medium-size enterprises key to global partnership
In panel discussions later in the day, American and Chinese leaders said that small- and medium-size enterprises would play a major role in the two global powers future. Currently, small and medium-size businesses represent 97 percent of U.S. firms and, as of 2007, 99.7 percent of all companies in China, experts said.
In the future, the United States should support entrepreneurship with economic policies that make it the best place to do business, said Suresh Kumar, assistant secretary for trade promotion and director general of the U.S. & Foreign Commercial Service at the U.S. Department of Commerce.
The U.S. & Foreign Commercial Service aims to help companies expand internationally by simplifying export regulations, encouraging innovation, stimulating investments and protecting intellectual property rights, Kumar said.
U.S. entrepreneurs have always been the most inventive in the world, Kumar said.
That innovation is what Locke hopes will propel growth for both the United States and China by creating “a more equitable partnership” between the two countries with Chinese consumers buying more U.S. goods and services.
Locke said he would like to see a shift toward more U.S. production and Chinese consumption and “Chinese and American innovators working side-by-side to develop breakthrough technologies.