Arlington's Foray into China

The SelectUSA 2015 Investment Summit was held last week at National Harbor. The event, organized by the Department of Commerce to attract foreign direct investments into the United States, brings with it business leaders from around the globe, and with it the opportunity to connect with those businesses. Arlington Economic Development partnered with the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, Washington, DC and the Greater Washington China Investment Center to host a pre-summit reception to welcome Chinese business leaders to Arlington. China’s delegation represented more than 85 companies, including representatives from major corporations such as Alibaba, Wanda, and Fosun, and we saw this as an incredible opportunity to network with some very impressive corporations. We set sail aboard the cruise ship Odyssey to showcase to the Chinese just what our two destinations can do for their businesses.

The partnership with Washington, D.C. is a new focus on regionalism for Arlington, since we believe promoting the Capital region opens more doors for Arlington and exposes the region to a much wider audience, especially an international audience. The regional partnership was especially apparent at the event when DC Mayor Muriel Bowser, Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones, and Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hynes shared a stage together. All of them expressed the fact that the Washington region is great for international investments, and regardless of jurisdictions, everyone wins when companies invest.

We hosted the event to allow American companies to meet with Chinese investors, and vice versa. Many of the Chinese companies are in the learning and exploratory stage in terms of investing in America. They told me that United States is a very popular and safe destination for Chinese investments, and the dollar is relatively strong compared to other currencies. As suspected, many of the Chinese companies are interested in real estate investments, including large commercial buildings and shopping centers. Several companies are now exploring partnership or ownership of Information Technology companies. Given the strength of the IT industry in the Washington region, I believe there may be plenty of opportunities for both sides in the future. Partnering or buying an established U.S. company is especially attractive to Chinese investors since this provides an entry into the U.S. market and distribution chain, without having to start a company from the ground up. The Chinese investor will only be a silent partner given the fact that they are unfamiliar with U.S. corporate culture, and they want the American management team to stay intact and continue to run the companies’ operations. The Odyssey event is just the beginning of our work with Asian investors.

Topic: BIG Update
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