Highlights from the Asian Investments in California event held on Saint Mary's campus...

Asian Investments. Sponsored by the Center for the Regional Economy and the Elfenworks Center for the Study of Fiduciary Capitalism, the panel featured four prominent global business leaders: Mr. Sanjiv Sanghvi Executive Vice President and Business Head of Global Banking at Wells Fargo Bank; Mr Walter Fang, President of Neusoft America, a Chinese based IT company; Mr.Voytek Siewierski, Investment Partner at Mitsui Ventures in Silicon Valley; and, Mr. Brian Kang, Managing Director of Samsung Ventures. The event was moderated by Dr. Jim Hawley, a graduate business professor and Director of the Elfenworks Center, and Dr Tomas Gomez-Arias, a marketing and global business professor.

Mr. Sanghvi started out the discussion by introducing Global Economic Investing as a moral issue. Since 1980 the majority of foreign investments into the U.S. came from Europe, Canada, and Japan. Now, there is a shift in where these investments are coming from. India and China are becoming forerunners of investing in the U.S. While China's GDP is set to surpass that of the United States', there is a great discrepancy in per capita GDP. The U.S. GDP is approximately $47,000 per capita. This is compared to China's GDP of $4,000 per capita.

Sanjiv commented on the fact that U.S. economic policies have been focused on capital rather than jobs. That is, policies have benefitted global companies rather than employees, and this is not necessarily what is best for America. The question comes down to: multinationals or people?

Mr. Fang began with the conviction that we cannot turn back globalization. We now have information flow through the internet, cross-border investments, and international trade. China is known as the "world's factory." However, China is moving toward a domestic consumption and service oriented economy. Services make up at least over half of the GDP of both the United States and Japan. Services make up only one third of China's GDP. Mr. Fang ended by discussing why China would invest in the Bay Area specifically. The Bay Area is very entrepreneurial, with biotechnology, telecom, and green technology in the forefront. The Bay Area most important resource is its people with talent, skills, and its history and culture of innovation.

Mr. Siewierski addressed the fact that people in the United States stereotype Asia as one single region. However, Asia is an extremely diverse continent. Many countries have different customs and business habits than the U.S., such as Japan and Korea, whereas others have adopted U.S. Business practices. These countries include: Malaysia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore. Historically, Asian companies would invest in the United States to bypass trade barriers, for strategic opportunities, and to bring home new technologies and improvements. Now, the overall pattern of investing from Asia is changing from strategic to financial.

Mr. Kang focused on California's economic future. Due to the financial crisis of the last 3 years, Silicon Valley has had fewer start ups and less opportunities. The technology that was developed in the Silicon Valley has gone to other countries because it is cheaper. However, the positives for California currently are biomedical and clean technology, as well as social networks technology and innovation. California makes up the heart of the users of these services, and the California government is taking an active role in clean technology.

The panel ended by encouraging students to travel, study abroad, see the world, and be open to learning other languages. A global perspective is critical, with many people now spending time working outside of the United States. With business and investing becoming a more and more global phenomenon, it is necessary for Americans to understand and learn about the rest of the world beyond U.S. borders.

Click here to see pictures from the evening.