Mittal urges China to ease rules on investment: report

Monday, 11 October 2010 22:11 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

TOKYO: China should ease rules on inward investment, Lakshmi Mittal, the chairman and chief executive officer of the world's largest steelmaker ArcelorMittal , said in an interview published on Monday.

"You cannot expect business people in the US to be relaxed (about planned inward investments by Chinese companies) if their attempts to do the same thing in China are covered by restrictions," he told the Financial Times in Tokyo.

Mittal was speaking in light of a row in the United States over a plan by Anshan Iron and Steel (Ansteel), one of China's biggest steelmakers, to join a 168 million dollar venture to build a plant in Mississippi, the report said.

"In today's free market, I don't think you can stop projects by Chinese companies to expand overseas," Mittal said.

But he added Beijing had to become more relaxed about the conditions under which foreign companies could participate in running China-based businesses, saying: "There has to be a two-way aspect to policy."

State-run Ansteel signed a formal agreement with Mississippi-based Steel Development Company in September that includes construction of five plants in the United States.  But the plan has come up against opposition from US lawmakers.  Fifty US legislators have sent letters to President Barack Obama and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner urging them to investigate the deal, arguing the investment threatened US jobs and national security.

Chinese government officials have repeatedly called on the United States to treat its companies "fairly" and not "politicise" the deal.

But industry experts say China has restrictions on allowing non-Chinese companies to take majority stakes in business fields -- including steel -- that Beijing regards as strategic to the country's national interests.