Shifting goods across borders tends to get a bit tricky in times of economic strife. Facing depleted demand for his products, factory owner A in the US will inevitably complain when what is left of the market is swallowed up by factory owner B in China, who charges lower prices. Today it’s steel and tomorrow it’s likely to be tires. The US steel industry concluded that Chinese steelmakers were able to cut their prices thanks to generous subsidies – and the US Commerce Department agreed. As a result, tariffs have been imposed on US imports of Chinese-made steel pipe. But what has become a difficult climate for exporters remains a boon for corporate investors. America won’t take Chinese steel pipe, but it is happy to take Chinese cash if it means washing its hands of troubled assets. The latest outbound investor is Beijing Automotive Industry Holdings (unlike Hummer suitor Sichuan Tengzhong, this company does actually make cars), which has become a minority partner in sports-car manufacturer Koenigsegg Group’s bid to buy Saab from struggling General Motors (GM). Beijing Automotive may yet do more business – it is also interested in GM’s Opel and Vauxhall brands. While Chinese automakers’ first steps overseas have been tentative at best, the country’s oil giants continue to throw their money around like trust fund kids in a brothel. China National Petroleum Corp announced yesterday that it had secured a US$30 billion loan from China Development Bank (CDB) and it is likely to use the cash for outbound investments. The company’s CDB-backed oil-for-loans deals for the year stand at US$46 billion and counting.