Ballmer, Blankfein Invited by Obama to Hu Discussion on Business in China

Chief executive officers from Microsoft Corp. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. will be among the corporate leaders the Obama administration is bringing together today for a meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao aimed at expanding U.S. business interests in China.

CEOs Steve Ballmer of Microsoft and Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman will be joined by General Electric Co.’s Jeffrey Immelt, Jim McNerney of Boeing Co. and 10 other U.S. business leaders for the meeting, the administration announced.

The CEO summit on the White House grounds, coming between a formal welcoming ceremony and a dinner in Hu’s honor, is part of the economic focus President Barack Obama is putting on the first formal state visit by a Chinese leader in more 13 years.

Also invited to the meeting were Westinghouse Electric Corp. CEO Aris Candris; former Sybase Inc. chief executive John Chen; Coca-Cola Co. chief executive Muhtar Kent; DuPont Co. CEO Ellen J. Kullman; Greg Page, CEO of Cargill Inc.; John Thornton, chairman of HSBC Holdings Plc’s North American division; David Rubenstein, co-founder and managing director of Carlyle Group; Paul Otellini, Intel Corp. CEO; and Dow Chemical Co. CEO Andrew Liveris.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said the session will highlight the “important economic relationship” between the two countries and the role U.S. exporters play in creating jobs.

“You’ll see important commercial relationships that our CEOs have and want to expand in China that the president believes is important to make a forceful case in front of both the CEOs from China as well as President Hu,” Gibbs told reporters yesterday.

Chinese Executives

The Chinese executives are Lu Guanqiu, chairman of Hangzhou-based Wanxiang Group Along; Lenovo Group Ltd. chairman Liu Chuanzhi; Lou Jiwei, chairman of the China Investment Corp.; and Haier Group Corp. chief executive Zhang Ruimin.

“People in the U.S. welcome us,” Lu said in an interview. “We’re solving their employment problems.”

The itinerary for Hu’s U.S. visit reflects the importance both countries place on their economic ties. It also meshes with Obama’s goal of boosting exports to spur job growth. Still, the relationship, marked by more than $400 billion in annual trade, is complicated by disagreements on issues as varied as human rights, China’s enforcement of intellectual property rights and what U.S. officials say is the artificially low value of China’s currency.

All of those topics will be addressed in the meetings between Obama and Hu, according to Gibbs.

Joint Briefing

Hu arrived in Washington late yesterday before today’s official arrival ceremony on the South Lawn. The two leaders also will also hold a joint press conference. In the evening, Obama will host a state dinner in Hu’s honor. The Chinese leader also plans to meet with members of Congress while in Washington.

Hu will travel later in the week to Chicago, where U.S. and Chinese companies will announce about 40 agreements, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs said. Chinese and U.S. companies signed six agreements worth about $600 million in Texas during the visit of a delegation headed by Wang Chao, the deputy minister of commerce, Xinhua news agency reported.

GE and American Electric Power Inc. were among the companies that signed agreements in Washington yesterday to expand cooperation between China and the U.S. on alternative energy projects.

GE’s deal with China’s Huadian Corp. should result in the sale of 50 aero-derivative turbine generator sets to the Chinese company, generating $350 million in U.S. exports over a decade. While Hu is in the U.S., the company plans to announce rail, aviation and energy projects yielding at least $2.1 billion.

Clean Energy

Columbus, Ohio-based AEP signed an agreement with China Huaneng Group, China’s biggest power producer, to work together to develop and evaluate carbon-capture technology.

AEP operates a plant in West Virginia using Alstom SA technology, which captures carbon generated by a coal-fired power plant and injects it in rock layers miles underground.

The Chinese companies “are moving forward in a very rapid pace with new technology,” Michael Morris, CEO of AEP, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television.

Other companies signing agreements yesterday included Duke Energy Corp., which will work with China’s ENN Group to develop technologies that will support clean energy for U.S. and Chinese cities. New York-based Ener1 Inc. rose the most in almost five years after it announced a joint venture with a unit of China’s largest auto-parts maker Wanxiang Group Co. Ltd. to make lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles.

‘Very Large’ Market

Increasing cooperation with China on clean energy “will dramatically expand high quality jobs, living standards, and our economy in the United States,” said Jon Huntsman, the U.S. ambassador to China. “So as long as we continue to produce cutting-edge technology and maintain our competitive advantage in management, services and education, the China market will loom very large.”

China had a $252 billion trade surplus with the U.S. in the first 11 months of 2010, according to Commerce Department data. The U.S. exported $100 billion worth of goods and services to China last year. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said last week that with the current rate of growth in U.S. exports there, China will become the biggest American trading partner in about a decade.

To contact the reporters on this story: Nicholas Johnston in Washington at njohnston3@bloomberg.net; Michael Forsythe in Washington at mforsythe@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net

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