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On Tuesday, Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent opened a can of controversy in a Financial Times article that quotes him criticizing the U.S. as a place to do big business and praising the environment for commerce in China. “Mr. Kent argued that U.S. states did not compete enough with each other to attract businesses while Chinese provinces were clamoring to draw investment from international companies,” writes FT reporter Alan Rappeport. “Meanwhile, he said, China’s budget discipline and rapid economic growth made it an appealing place to set up operations.” In addition, Kent offered a critique of U.S. tax policy, saying “I believe the U.S. owes itself to create a 21st century tax policy for individuals as well as businesses,” while also calling out the polarization of American politics as harmful to business investment. Much of the FT interview finds the Coke CEO comparing China favorably to the U.S., which according to Politico, lines up with the company’s recent efforts to expand its presence in the heart of the Far East: “Coke has been aggressively expanding in China—it announced a month ago that it would invest $4 billion there over the next three years. Coke has spent $1.3 billion in capital assets in North America this year.” Kent also praised Brazil and Russia in his FT interview, calling on U.S. policymakers to adopt what he says are more business-friendly policies. However, Rappeport contrasts Kent’s statements with those of Gary Locke, the U.S. ambassador to China, who recently “criticized the country for undervaluing its currency and for not sufficiently cracking down on intellectual property theft, arguing that the business climate was causing ‘growing frustration.’ “ See also, “China’s Intellectual Property Regime Comes of Age,” The Legal Intelligencer, August 2011.

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