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Chinese firms holding off on US investment in Trump era
[NEW YORK] Some Chinese companies are holding off on US investment plans while they see how the trade dispute with President Donald Trump plays out, executives said Thursday.
China Construction America acknowledged pausing some new US investment amid trade war fears.
But that uncertainty could mean more deals for some companies already in the US as competitors stay away, according to auto parts supplier Wanxiang America.
US-China trade tensions have escalated in recent weeks and threatened to boil over into a trade war after Washington and Beijing exchanged threats to impose steep import tariffs on each other.
The US is targeting what it says is the massive theft of American intellectual property, as well as restrictions on US goods entering the Chinese market, creating a large US trade deficit.
The sides recently seemed to indicate talks were possible, but the uncertainty remains.
"We have a big pipeline to acquire more US companies... but right now, we will watch a little bit," Yuan Ning, president of China Construction America, said at a US-China business summit.
The reticence stems from seeing other Chinese companies blocked from making acquisitions by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), Mr Yuan said. China Construction has been active in the US market for 33 years.
But Ni Pin, president of Wanxiang America, expects fewer new entrants from China and therefore less competition for deals.
"This probably will present a lot more opportunity," Mr Ni predicted.
Equity markets greeted the more conciliatory tone earlier this week from Chinese President Xi Jinping, but analysts say the disagreements are real and will likely be difficult to resolve.
Chinese direct investment in the US fell to US$29 billion in 2017 from US$46 billion due to tightening spending by Beijing and obstacles set by CFIUS, according to Rhodium Group.