June 19, 2024

Advancing Corporate Yields

Pioneering Business Success

MNCs delve deeper into local market amid country’s opening-up commitment

An employee operates equipment at a battery assembly workshop of Panasonic Energy (Wuxi) Co Ltd in Wuxi, Jiangsu province, in July 2022. [Photo/Xinhua]

BEIJING — Foreign firms continue to view China as a favored investment destination, driven by the country”s steadfast commitment to opening-up and innovation, said foreign firm executives at the Invest in China Summit 2024 in Beijing in March.

The summit, jointly hosted by the Ministry of Commerce and the Beijing Municipal People’s Government, marked the first signature event of Invest in China, a government campaign to attract foreign investment and help overseas firms better understand China’s opportunities.

Attendees at the summit said China’s robust economic resilience — fueled by its enormous market potential, burgeoning emerging industries and high-quality talent pool — instills enduring confidence among foreign companies to continue investing in the country.

“China is now an innovation leader and a nation of engineers, alongside its status as a manufacturing powerhouse and a key consumer market,” said Tetsuro Homma, executive vice-president of Panasonic Corp.

Homma emphasized that the country also serves as a “testing ground” for foreign enterprises, given that products thriving in the Chinese market often gain a competitive edge in other markets as well.

To delve deeper into the Chinese market, the Japan-based multinational corporation has unveiled a series of investment plans and established 18 investment bases in China over the past four years. To expand its footprint in China, it announced the construction of a world-class production base for new integrated circuit materials in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, in late March.

As a firm proponent of opening-up, China has intensified its efforts to expand access to its markets by streamlining rules, regulations, management practices and standards. These initiatives have reassured foreign investors, according to participants at the summit.

To further attract foreign investors, China has pledged to fully lift restrictions on foreign investment access to its manufacturing sector this year.

Earlier last month, the country issued an action plan to further attract and utilize foreign investment, proposing 24 measures across five aspects, such as expanding market access, facilitating the flow of innovation factors, as well as better aligning domestic rules with high-standard international economic and trade rules.

Mats Harborn, president of Scania China Group, said the action plan demonstrates the government’s determination to remain an integral part of the global economy, which bodes well for foreign investors engaged in long-term business in China.

“By providing clarity on many of China’s new laws, the perceived investment risk for foreign investors will decrease,” Harborn said, adding that this will allow the company to prioritize value creation over risk management.

A leading global truck manufacturer, Scania has made heavy investments in China, building its third global production hub in the country after Europe and Latin America. According to Harborn, the company’s move to establish supply chains worldwide, particularly in China, has strengthened its resilience against disruptions caused by natural disasters or geopolitical tensions.

Drawn by the improved business environment and vast market potential, more foreign companies are opting to establish their presence in China despite the rising tide of global protectionism. The Ministry of Commerce said that some 7,160 new foreign-invested firms were set up across China during the first two months, up 34.9 percent year-on-year, the biggest surge in nearly five years.

Foreign business leaders at the summit also pointed out the huge opportunities arising from China’s pursuit of innovation-driven and green development.

Christof Ehrhart, executive vice-president of Robert Bosch GmbH, highlighted China’s determination to pursue sustainable development, noting that it has created greater opportunities for the company to develop relevant technologies in China.

Ehrhart said China, partly propelled by its decarbonization goals, has emerged as a leading market in hydrogen technology, particularly in commercial vehicle applications. “There’s even more opportunities for us to develop such technologies that might be part of the solution here in China, for China, but also beyond.”

“We believe in the future of the Chinese market. We’re going to stay here for Chinese customers, and for Chinese companies to be successful in global markets,” Ehrhart added.