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'Dual circulation' to boost growth (II)

By Zhong Nan, Zheng Xin, and Zhu Wenqian | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2021-01-13 06:40

Javier Gimeno, group senior vice-president and CEO for Asia-Pacific operations of Saint-Gobain SA [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

A1: In 2020, China has been the most resilient and dynamic country within my scope of responsibility, which covers the whole Asia-Pacific region.

After the dramatic drop caused by the COVID-19 pandemic during the months of February and March in 2020, our company recovered the level of activity of 2019 from April.

We experienced a significant and progressive acceleration of demand in the Chinese market all over the summer. We have enjoyed double-digit growth since September 2020 and we hope this trend will continue in 2021.

A2: The fact that the domestic market has been identified by the Chinese government as a powerful engine for future growth and the country's further development is excellent news for all companies, like Saint-Gobain.

We have kept investing in this country to serve the local markets over the past many years. At present, the majority of our sales in China are produced locally, and almost 100 percent of what Saint-Gobain manufactures in our more than 50 plants in China is sold in this country.

Our strategy of "in China for China" should be now consolidated and bolstered by the "dual circulation" approach. The growing demand of Chinese clients in terms of innovation, technology, quality and sustainability is for Saint-Gobain a kind of historic opportunity that we certainly are determined to catch and seize.

A3: From my perspective, the priority given to employment by the Chinese government has been one of its greatest successes over the pandemic.

Saving jobs and preserving small and medium-sized businesses is a key strategy to both guarantee social stability and to protect the most fragile and, at the same time, most necessary part of the economic fabric of this country. These small and medium-sized companies essentially are the businesses that constitute the bulk of our clients and suppliers in China. So the importance of the actions undertaken in this field by the Chinese is also extremely important for Saint-Gobain. We are grateful for that.

A4: This is not really a matter of opinion, but just a factual reality supported by numbers.

Statistics clearly show that China has been extremely fast and effective at first containing and then defeating the COVID-19 pandemic.

The country has also done a good job at restoring the confidence and trust of both the Chinese people and the main economic factors and thus to quickly bring back to normal both ordinary and business lives.

A5: I believe that some years ago, when the decision to speed up the process of transformation of the Chinese economy model had been adopted by the government, China had already started its journey in the right direction and had already begun to enter into a "new development stage".

Never before as today in the post-COVID-19 era, the commitment of China with "high-quality growth" had been so explicit, determined and accompanied by rich resources. This historical move of the Chinese economy does not really modify the strategy of Saint-Gobain in this country since our arrival here in 1985.

A6: China plays a very relevant role in the global strategy of Saint-Gobain of sustainable and profitable growth.

More than ever before our company's purpose ("make the world a better home") best fits with both the new economic model of China and with the aspirations and wishes of the large majority of Chinese consumers. The weight of China within Saint-Gobain can only increase in the future and it is our strong willingness to do so.

A7: For Saint-Gobain the most relevant part of the 14th Five-Year Plan is the firm commitment of China to research and development, technology, innovation and sustainability. All these elements are the pillars of the new economic model of this country. They also constitute the main principles of the strategy of our company across the world and China. Our intention is to surf on the gigantic wave of growth and prosperity that the new five-year plan would generate, and to do so by boosting our investments to develop new solutions and products.

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