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Foreign Firms See Profitable Future in China

by Harley Bennett
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Nearly 90 percent of foreign companies expect their profits to remain stable or increase in China over the next five years, with a large number of them identifying technological innovation as the primary growth opportunity in the Chinese market, according to a survey released by China’s top foreign trade and investment promotion agency on Tuesday.

The study, conducted by the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade and involving 700 foreign companies, found that over 80 percent of respondents were satisfied with China’s business environment in the third quarter of 2023, and about 80 percent anticipate that their profits will remain stable or improve in 2023.

Though the global investment sentiment remains subdued, foreign enterprises have sufficient confidence in investing in China, said Zhang Xin, spokesman for the Beijing-headquartered CCPIT. They are happy with the operational aspects such as market access, process of acquiring business premises, access to essential infrastructure facilities and services, and the resolution of commercial disputes in the country, he added.

“Regarding development opportunities, foreign firms have consistently believed that technological innovations are the most significant growth opportunities in the Chinese market for three consecutive quarters,” he said, noting that about half of them have expressed an interest in increasing investment in China’s western region.

China’s peaceful and huge market, as well as its latest move to implement measures to broaden market access for global investors in several key areas, including the relaxation of restrictions on foreign investment in listed companies, will offer multinational corporations more growth opportunities, said Chang Xiuze, a professor of economics at the Academy of Macroeconomic Research in Beijing.

Fueled by China’s pool of talent and industrial upgrade, foreign businesses operating in China, especially manufacturers and service providers, will persist in establishing digitally empowered factories, adding innovation hubs and striving to expand their market share in various sectors, such as automotive, logistics, retail, green technology and high-end manufacturing, he said.

Echoing the sentiment, Sally Loh, president for China of United States-based elevator manufacturing company Otis Worldwide Corp, said the Chinese market is a key contributor to the group’s global performance.

“We will continue to grow our business in both the new equipment and service segments in China, as this market leads our service digitalization deployment,” she said. “Our innovation, smart manufacturing and talent localization in China are important pillars of our global business.”

Foreign direct investment used in China’s manufacturing sector amounted to 262.4 billion yuan ($35.9 billion) between January and September, representing a 2.4 percent increase on a yearly basis, with high-tech manufacturing seeing a growth of 12.8 percent year-on-year, data from the Ministry of Commerce showed.

In terms of development aspirations, foreign companies surveyed by the CCPIT expressed the hope that the Chinese government will take steps to ensure the stability of the country’s supply and industrial chains, enhance its industrial support capabilities and clustering effects, and bolster the continuity and stability of policies that assist businesses in times of need.

Zhao Jinping, former director of the department of foreign economic relations at the Development Research Center of the State Council, said that for many global business leaders, there has been a significant shift in traditional perceptions about the business environment in China.

“They no longer simply expect the government to provide good services. Rather, they now seek government support to facilitate their innovation activities and gain access to sectors previously restricted to them,” he said.

Since the beginning of this year, numerous multinational company executives have repeatedly shown strong interest in coming to China. They have engaged in discussions with business partners and held meetings with Chinese officials.

For example, Commerce Minister Wang Wentao met with Tim Cook, CEO of US tech giant Apple Inc, and Severin Schwan, board chairman of Swiss healthcare company Roche Holding AG in Beijing in mid-October, encouraging multinational companies to share the benefits of the Chinese market and achieve mutual development.

Source : ChinaDaily

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