US and China Trade War

US and China Trade War

Posted by BANKUS on July 23rd 2019


Growing disagreement between the United States and China has affected the flow of Chinese cash into America, as Chinese investment dropped by nearly 90 percent since President Trump took office. The falloff, which is being felt throughout the economy, is based on tougher regulatory scrutiny in the US and a less friendly mood towards Chinese investment. China also tightened limits on foreign spending. This is affecting several industries including Silicon Valley start-ups, the Manhattan real estate market and state governments that spent years on Chinese investments.

"The fact that the foreign direct investment has fallen so sharply is symbolic of how badly the economic relationship between the United States and China has deteriorated," said Eswar Prasad, former head of the International Monetary Fund’s China division. “The U.S. doesn’t trust the Chinese, and China doesn’t trust the U.S.”

Chinese investment into the United States has grown fast, particularly in the auto industry, tech, energy, and agriculture which created new jobs in Michigan, South Carolina, Missouri, Texas and other states. As China’s economy grew, state and local governments along with American companies looked to snap up some of those Chinese funds. But Mr. Trump’s economic Cold War has reversed that trend. Chinese foreign direct investment in the United States fell to $5.4 billion in 2018 from a peak of $46.5 billion in 2016, a drop of 88 percent, according to data from Rhodium Group, an economic research firm. Preliminary figures from April this year, which account for investments by mainland Chinese companies, pointed that a modest uptick from last year, with transactions valued at $2.8 billion.

"I certainly hear in conversations with investors a lot of concern about whether the U.S. market is still open,” said Rod Hunter, a lawyer at Baker McKenzie who specializes in foreign investment reviews. “You have a potentially chilling effect for Chinese investors."

A conjunction of interests appears to be at play. A slower economy and tighter capital control in China have made it harder for Chinese investors to invest in the US, according to trade and mergers and acquisitions advisers. Mr. Trump’s resolution for imposing punishing tariffs on Chinese goods together with a powerful regulatory group that heavily targets foreign investment, particularly involving Chinese investors, have also affected businesses on both nations.

China, which has reacted against US goods via its own tariffs, may also be turning off the investment doors as retaliation for Mr. Trump’s economic policy.

Shortly after the New Year, China’s HNA Group took a $41 million loss on a glass and aluminium Manhattan high-rise after American regulators forced it to sell the property because of security concerns about its proximity to Trump Tower, only a few blocks away.

Chinese investors are also showing less interest for real estate in the United States. Research released recently by the National Association of Realtors found that purchases of homes in America by Chinese buyers dropped by 56 percent to $13.4 billion in the year to March.

"The magnitude of the decline is quite striking, implying less confidence in owning a property in the U.S.," said Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the realtor’s group.

Despite the decline, China was still the top foreign buyer of American properties from April 2018 to March 2019. Even if both nations reach a deal, slow Chinese investment is expected to continue. The administration is rolling out new barriers to investment, including controls on the types of American technology that can be sold overseas and placing Chinese firms like Huawei on a government blacklist.