China to help firms investing abroad

Updated: 2011-09-09 07:08

By Ding Qingfen (China Daily)

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XIAMEN, Fujian - Chinese firms need a more "open and convenient" global investment climate and the government will introduce measures to help companies invest internationally, the country's top commerce official said on Thursday.

The government will launch more measures to aid companies investing overseas and create a win-win situation for both China and other countries, Minister of Commerce Chen Deming said at the International Investment Forum 2011 in Xiamen, Fujian province.

The forum is part of the five-day 15th China International Fair for Investment & Trade that started on Wednesday.

"Some developed nations have tried to block Chinese investment citing national security," Chen said. "This does not help efforts to combat the global financial crisis."

One prime example of this involved China's leading telecom provider, Huawei. The company was blocked from a series of overseas deals, in 2008 and 2010, amid concerns in the US over national security.

Despite obstacles, China overtook Japan and the United Kingdom in 2010 as the fifth-largest overseas investor.

"China's outbound direct investment (ODI) has created huge benefits for both China and other nations," Chen said.

By the end of 2010, China's total ODI was $317.2 billion, the 17th largest, with investments in 178 nations and regions.

Even with political challenges, there are growing opportunities for Chinese companies to invest overseas, officials and experts believe.

Foreign officials attending the fair said that they welcomed Chinese investment.

"China has become the largest development partner and an important investor in Sri Lanka, especially in infrastructure projects," D.M. Jayaratne, Sri Lankan prime minister, said.

"There are plenty of opportunities and areas that we can exploit for our mutual benefit.

"Sri Lanka offers a wide variety of investment opportunities and incentives to foreign companies."

By the end of 2010, the Asia-Pacific region and Latin America were the top two destinations for China's ODI. But the EU and Oceania witnessed the most rapid growth in recent years.

Fonotoe Nuafesili Pierre Lauofo, Samoa's deputy prime minister and minister for commerce, industry and labor, said that "Samoa continues to enjoy a cooperative arrangement with China and is keen on strengthening trade and investment relations".

Officials from the commerce ministry predicted that China's ODI will exceed foreign direct investment (FDI) in three years.

"We will provide more effective support in terms of policy and service to Chinese companies," Chen said.

China is studying and exploring new ways to broaden the use of its foreign exchange reserves, and looking at channels and methods to expand cross-border yuan flows.

"Although China is facing new challenges, including higher labor costs, China's foreign investment environment will continue to remain competitive in the long term thanks to good infrastructure and labor resources," Chen said.

FDI expanded to $114.7 billion in 2010 from $46.9 billion in 2001, and China has opened its manufacturing sectors and more than 100 service sectors since 2001.

Attracting FDI was cited as a priority in the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015).

"We will further improve the investment environment to provide equal treatment for companies at home and abroad, and come up with innovative ways of attracting FDI and widening the area for FDI," Chen said.

Coca-Cola announced in August that it will expand its investment, worth $4 billion, in China over the next three years on top of the $3 billion investment announced in 2009.

"New factors are boosting the competitiveness of China's investment climate, including world-class clusters of industry in coastal regions, a talented and educated workforce and the government's steps to protect intellectual property rights," said Hisao Sakuta, chairman of Omron, a leading electronics manufacturer.

"China is well on track to transforming itself into the world's quality manufacturing powerhouse from a low-cost processing and assembling base."

Bao Chang contributed to this story.

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