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MNCs intensifying investment push for growth

By Zhong Nan | China Daily | Updated: 2024-06-19 09:40

A view of FedEx's booth during the sixth China International Import Expo in Shanghai in November. [PHOTO/CHINA DAILY]

China's fast-growing tech-intensive green industries, lucrative market potential and high-level openness to international engagement will boost confidence among multinational corporations, said foreign business leaders.

Highlighting China's strong attraction for global companies due to emerging opportunities in sectors such as electric vehicles, advanced manufacturing and trade in services, they said that technological decoupling presents a significant risk to global economic recovery.

Driven by these prospects, foreign companies are intensifying their investments, broadening their business scope, and devising medium- to long-term strategies for consistent growth, optimistic about China's prospects for high-quality economic advancement in the coming years.

Riding a boom in China's automotive sector, Japanese tire manufacturer Bridgestone Corp said earlier this month that it will invest 562 million yuan ($77.47 million) in the country over the next three years. The investment will focus on constructing production bases and enhancing output of high-performance passenger car tires.

"To achieve the goals of enhancing profitability, our strategic resources will be primarily directed toward the high-end passenger car tire market in China. This area has greater potential for growth," said Agustin Pedroni, president and CEO of Bridgestone (China) Investment Co Ltd.

The Japanese company plans to invest $26 million in its tire factory in Wuxi, Jiangsu province, this year, to expand high-end passenger car tire production capacity.

To adapt to the changing demands of the Chinese tire market and accelerate product localization, Bridgestone's Wuxi plant has increased production of high-rim diameter tires to 21 inches to replace imports.

Bridgestone's investments appear justified. A total of 8.07 million passenger cars were sold via retail channels in China in the first five months of 2024, an increase of 5.7 percent year-on-year, data from the China Passenger Car Association showed.

Meanwhile, US logistics provider FedEx will continue to invest in network development, digital-related services and key regions in China this year, said Robert Chu, vice-president for operations at FedEx China.

As one of the most dynamic and promising bay areas in China, the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area has attracted businesses of all sizes, said Chu, adding that the company recently upgraded its gateway facility in Shenzhen, Guangdong province.

"With the newly renovated and expanded import warehouse, our import operations and Customs clearance have become more efficient," he added.

In a survey of more than 600 foreign-funded companies, over 70 percent said they are optimistic about the development prospects of the Chinese market over the next five years, and more than 50 percent believe the Chinese market has become more attractive.

The Beijing-based China Council for the Promotion of International Trade released the study results earlier this year.

The trade value of foreign-invested companies amounted to 5.09 trillion yuan between January and May, declining 0.1 percent year-on-year, accounting for 29.1 percent of China's total foreign trade value, statistics from the General Administration of Customs showed.

Eager to attract more foreign investment, China has taken a series of measures to facilitate foreign investment this year, including rolling out national and pilot free trade zone versions of negative lists for cross-border trade in services, and simplifying visa application procedures for foreigners.

Upbeat about the Chinese market, Rui Coelho, CEO of the China unit at Air Liquide SA, a French industrial and medical gases provider, said the nation's comprehensive and reliable industrial chains play an indispensable role in stabilizing the global supply chain.

"The country's economic development model and market environment are continually evolving, offering opportunities and valuable experiences for our business expansion and enhancement," said Coelho.

Apart from operating more than 120 plants across China, the French company will set up a large-scale hydrogen filling center in Shanghai in the second half. It will also accelerate the deployment of hydrogen energy in Shanghai and the Yangtze River Delta region.

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