The Flip Side: China Outsourcing to the U.S.

Last Updated Jun 12, 2008 4:59 PM EDT

china-flag-small.jpgOutsourcing to China has been the rage for more than 20 years, but how about the flip side? China is quietly outsourcing to -- and seeking investments in -- the United States.

There is clear evidence of this going on, despite the political controversy in 2005 when China's state-owned oil giant CNOOC Ltd. tried to buy American oil firm Unocal Corp. for $18.5 billion. CNOOC pulled out after protests. More recently, a Chinese-owned sovereign wealth fund drew fire for a winning a $5 billion stake in Morgan Stanley.
Instead the Chinese moves to the U.S. are small ones and are often driven by changing economics back home, namely China's hot, if not overheated, economy is making local land expensive and power supplies unreliable.

Here are a few examples:

  1. A Chinese firm that makes printing plates put $500,000 into a site near Spartanburg, S.C.because land was cheaper than in China and electricity was only 75 percent of what it cost at home and didn't suffer from bronwouts, according to media reports. Labor was the only expense that was more in the Palmetto State than in China.
  2. The governor of Wyoming, which has the largest and least polluting coal reserves in the U.S. West, recently toured Chinese mining firms.
  3. Georgia and Alabama have invited Chinese business leaders for look-sees regarding investments.
  4. A Richmond, Va.-based investment house, Anderson & Strudwick, has helped two Chinese firms -- e-Future and Sino-Global America -- launch IPOs on Nasdaq. Such IPOs are rare since the suspicion factor is high in the U.S. Yet smaller Chinese firms often have trouble getting listed on Chinese exchanges, which tend to favor large state-owned companies.
China's extension into American markets is a natural one as the country's economy expands and matures. Plus, the Chinese had loads of cash available for investments. It might be smart for Americans get some back because a lot of the money comes from Chinese goods we've have imported.

Maybe a future BNET China will some day publish a crash course on outsourcing to America for the Chinese CEO.