Foreign firms still keen to ramp up investment

2024-01-31 08:18:35China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

A view of Shanghai's Pudong New Area. According to an implementation plan released on Monday by the State Council, China's Cabinet, Pudong will be provided with more autonomy in the reform of key areas for breakthroughs in opening-up. (WANG GANG/FOR CHINA DAILY)

Multinational corporations will continue to ramp up investment in China this year as the country's immense consumption potential and innovation capabilities have bolstered their confidence, market observers and business leaders said on Tuesday.

They are optimistic because they anticipate that China's growth will outpace most major economies this year, despite facing headwinds. They attribute this to the improvement of the nation's competitiveness and changes in the international landscape, noting that the Chinese market today serves as both a huge consumer market and a well-developed innovation hub.

Zhang Wei, vice-president of the Beijing-based Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, said that foreign investors are increasingly valuing China's modern industrial infrastructure, innovative ecosystem and access to research talent.

That sentiment is in line with the latest data. Over 80 percent of foreign companies expressed satisfaction with China's business environment in 2023, while more than 90 percent found the Chinese market appealing, according to a survey released on Tuesday by the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade.

The survey conducted by the country's top foreign trade and investment promotion agency also showed that nearly 70 percent of these companies expressed optimism about the market's outlook for the next five years.

Addressing a monthly news conference in Beijing, Yang Fan, a spokeswoman for the CCPIT, said that more than 90 percent of the surveyed foreign companies anticipate that their investment profitability in China will either remain stable or increase over the next five years.

China's actual foreign direct investment remained at a historical high level and amounted to 1.13 trillion yuan ($158 billion) in 2023, data from the Ministry of Commerce showed.

Wang Shouwen, vice-minister of commerce, said on Friday at a news conference in Beijing that as part of China's efforts to foster deeper economic integration, boost foreign trade and attract global capital, the government will continue to advance its accession into the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement this year.

Zheng Chiping, director of the National Development and Reform Commission's department of foreign capital and overseas investment, said that China will roll out a package of measures this year to boost efforts in soliciting foreign investment. The government will work to solve existing problems that foreign businesses face while investing in China.

Pan Yuanyuan, assistant researcher at the Institute of World Economics and Politics of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that given the Chinese government's supportive policies, multinational corporations are keen to invest in sectors such as new energy, digital transformation, smart manufacturing and e-commerce in the years ahead.

Yin Zheng, executive vice-president of China and East Asia operations, Schneider Electric SE, a French industrial and technology conglomerate, said that with China entering a new era of innovation-led growth, his company will keep strengthening its "China Hub" strategy this year in all aspects, including talent, innovation, supply chain and ecosystem development.

Fueled by an automobile production boom and green transformation in China, Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co, a United States-based tire manufacturer, plans to complete the second phase of its factory in Kunshan, Jiangsu province, by the end of the year.

The project, which involves an investment of $200 million, promises to bring an additional 700 million yuan in annual operating income.

"Benefiting from the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, we are also exporting tires manufactured by our plants in China to Japan and a number of Southeast Asian countries," said Chris Helsel, Goodyear's senior vice-president for global operations.

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