China remains the world's most appealing investment destination despite the near-term headwinds from the COVID-19 pandemic, noted representatives from multinational corporate giants and industry insiders at the third Qingdao Multinationals Summit in the coastal city of Qingdao, east China's Shandong Province.
Themed "Multinationals and China," this year's summit focused on topics including global industrial and supply chain reconstruction in the post-pandemic era, implementation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and promotion of institutional opening up, multinationals' role in enhancing economic and social development, and the Yellow River Basin ecological protection and high-quality development.
More than 5,600 industry leaders, company delegates, ambassadors, scholars, and government officials participated in the summit online and offline.
A total of 99 key foreign investment projects with a combined investment of 15.6 billion U.S. dollars were signed at the three-day summit that opened on Sunday. The investment fields mainly involve high-end equipment, new energy and new materials, new-generation information technology, as well as modern finance, agriculture, and service.
Visitors view the Exhibition on Multinationals and China during the third Qingdao Multinationals Summit in Qingdao, east China's Shandong Province, June 19, 2022. (XINHUA)
Companies at the summit expressed their persistent confidence in the prospects of the Chinese market.
"We had a great performance in the first two quarters, especially in May," noted Ai Zhouping, president of Heraues (China) Investment Co., Ltd. Ai noted that thanks to the effective control of the pandemic and the smooth work resumption progress, the logistics and related industries are recovering.
"Our gross sales and margin indicators in May met expectations, and were better than those from the same period last year," Ai said, adding that with a total investment of about 200 million U.S. dollars, the company is making great progress on nearly 10 projects in China.
Nicolas Poirot, Air Liquide China President & CEO, said at the summit that over the past three decades, Air Liquide has made solid achievements in China, operating more than 120 plants in over 40 Chinese cities with around 5,000 employees across the country. Air Liquide is a multinational industrial gas supplier based in France.
"China is the world's largest manufacturing country and will become the largest high-quality consumer market, and we have confidence in the Chinese market," said Poirot.
J.P. Morgan is also a witness of the remarkable achievements of China's fast development.
"We've participated in the development of China's financial markets for a very long time, and witnessed the market growing and opening up. We believe the impact of the pandemic will be temporary, and the promising prospect of this market is still a key attraction to multinationals," said Yu Bing, general manager of the Shanghai branch of JPMorgan Chase Bank (China) Company Limited.
AstraZeneca, a leading global pharmaceutical company, has been deeply devoted to the Chinese market for nearly 30 years. The Chinese government has, in recent years, unveiled and adopted a series of policies, demonstrating its commitment to creating a world-class business environment, promoting a higher level of opening up in the long term, and enhancing confidence for multinational enterprises to develop and step up investment in China, according to Leon Wang, executive vice president, international and China president of AstraZeneca.
Data from the Ministry of Commerce showed that foreign direct investment in the Chinese mainland, in actual use, expanded 22.6 percent year on year to 87.77 billion U.S. dollars in the first five months of the year. In the January-April period, China saw 185 newly-added major projects, each with a foreign investment of over 100 million U.S. dollars.
An employee works at a base of Dow Chemical Company in Zhangjiagang, east China's Jiangsu Province, March 8, 2020. (XINHUA)
"Air Liquide will increase its investment and recruitment and enhance innovation in hydrogen, electronics, healthcare, sustainable agriculture, and other fields, deepen exchanges with Chinese partners, and contribute to the high-quality innovative development of China's economy," said Poirot.
The America Chamber of Commerce in China (AmCham China) said in a recently published white paper that AmCham China's member companies stand committed to the Chinese market. About two-thirds of the companies surveyed listed China as the world's top three investment destinations, the report said, adding that about 83 percent of the companies surveyed said that they did not consider moving production or procurement outside China.
During the Summit, AstraZeneca and the Qingdao municipal government signed a memorandum of understanding, announcing the establishment of AstraZeneca China's regional headquarters in Qingdao.
"With complete industrial supporting facilities, a huge market potential, and high labor productivity, China's core competitiveness in the global supply chain is still obvious," noted Lin Meng with the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation.
According to Lin, the implementation of a series of reforms, opening up, transformation, and development policies and measures will give China further momentum in innovation and raising comprehensive efficiency of the supply chain.
This is the third time Dow, a global materials science leader with 125 years of history, participated in the summit. Jon Penrice, president of Dow Asia Pacific, joined the summit online this time.
China is one of Dow's most important markets and currently the largest one outside of the United States, Penrice said. "We believe the Chinese market will continue to play a big role in our business."