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International investment improving due to friendlier environment

By ZHONG NAN| China Daily| Updated : Oct 14, 2022

China's ability to attract foreign direct investment is expected to improve this year thanks to opening-up measures, multiple and bilateral free trade agreements and a flourishing domestic market, officials and business leaders said.

Bolstered by a complete industrial system, social stability and free trade deals such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement, China has created a solid foundation for the growth of foreign companies despite challenges threatening its economic recovery, said Hong Junjie, vice-president of the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing.

In the first eight months of this year, foreign direct investment in the Chinese mainland increased 16.4 percent year-on-year to 892.74 billion yuan ($124.81 billion), data from the Ministry of Commerce showed.

China is deeply integrated with economic globalization and international production systems. The successful development of globalization requires international cooperation and competition, as well as a strong connection to international industrial and supply chains, said Liu Chang, president of the Government Affairs Forum at the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China.

To that end, multinational companies can make full use of their technological advantages and global perspective to facilitate the development of the dual-circulation growth paradigm, she said.

The paradigm, proposed by China last year, recognizes the domestic market as the national economic mainstay, with domestic and foreign markets reinforcing each other.

Apart from expanding manufacturing, innovation, sales and service networks in China, foreign companies in the country saw trade value rise year-on-year by 2.4 percent between January and August to 9.17 trillion yuan, accounting for 33.6 percent of China's total trade value, according to the General Administration of Customs.

Eager to evolve its agricultural exposure and value chain in China, Bayer AG, a German agricultural and pharmaceutical group, will relocate its crop protection equipment production site to Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, with a new investment of over 300 million yuan to meet market demands in China and the Asia-Pacific region by 2025.

The company's crop science unit has developed a 10-year strategy to contribute to China's goals to grow its agriculture division and build a more sustainable food production system through a farmer-centric, outcome-based and digitally-enabled approach.

Gao Yong, vice-president for China of Bayer AG, said that the company hopes to introduce more innovative seeds and crop production products and solutions, while continuing to expand local cooperation and investment to contribute to the modernization of China's agricultural sector in the coming years.

"Thanks to China's efforts to accelerate innovation and improve its business environment, we have been able to bring in the latest innovative products and solutions more quickly, especially in the pharmaceutical area," Gao added.

Echoing this sentiment, Kenichi Tanaka, president of Fujifilm (China) Investment Co Ltd, said that for Japanese businesses, the consistency of the Chinese market is rare, even unique, in terms of language and culture, on a global scale.

Though some companies plan to implement the "China Plus One" strategy by diversifying supply chains to disperse risk, the country's complete industrial chains and broad market prospects are still advantageous, he said.

"With China deploying more resources to push digital transformation, reach peak carbon emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060, our healthcare and highly functional materials businesses will be two key areas of future growth," he said, adding that China makes up about 13 percent of the group's annual revenues.

High-tech industries saw a foreign direct investment increase of 33.6 percent between January and August. Specifically, foreign investment rose 43.1 percent in the high-tech manufacturing sector and 31 percent in the high-tech service sector, the Ministry of Commerce said.

The government will continue to optimize the business environment, improve services for foreign investors, strengthen regular exchanges with foreign companies and business associations and actively respond to their needs, said Chen Chunjiang, director-general of the ministry's foreign investment administration.

The number of newly established foreign-funded enterprises in China has been rising over the years and reached 48,000 in 2021, up 23.5 percent from the previous year, according to ministry data.