Foreign businesses seek to step up investment in China as major fair kicks off
Published: Sep 08, 2023 10:04 PM
A snapshot of the 23rd China International Fair for Investment and Trade that kicks off in Xiamen, East China's Fujian Province on September 8, 2023. Photo: cnsphoto

A snapshot of the 23rd China International Fair for Investment and Trade that kicks off in Xiamen, East China's Fujian Province on September 8, 2023. Photo: cnsphoto

At a major fair for investment and trade that kicked off in Xiamen, East China's Fujian Province on Friday, many global businesses, including those from the US and the UK, expressed confidence in the Chinese market thanks to the long-term growth of the Chinese economy and Chinese officials' intensifying efforts to improve the business environment. 

The 23rd China International Fair for Investment and Trade (CIFIT) is another example of the Chinese government's efforts to provide a "golden platform" for foreign businesses to further explore opportunities in the Chinese markets, several foreign business executives noted. This uplifting sentiment came in stark contrast to vicious claims made by Western officials and media about China's economy and market prospects for multinationals.

The fair, hosted by the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM), has become a globally influential platform for promoting investments. This year, the event attracted representatives from a total of 102 countries and regions, with Serbia, Brazil and Qatar as the guests of honor. Fourteen international organizations, including the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, also participated. 

The fair highlighted China's resolve in promoting high-level opening-up and sincerity in facilitating international exchanges and cooperation and sharing the vast Chinese market with the world, Chen Chunjiang, assistant minister of MOFCOM, said at the event on Friday, noting that boosting investors' confidence and promoting openness and cooperation have become more important than ever due to uncertainties in the recovery of the global economy. 

"Against the backdrop of China's policies to stabilize foreign investment and boost consumption, the fair is another golden platform for us to have in-depth communication with the Chinese government," Lu Haiqing, chief corporate affairs and strategic relations officer for IHG Greater China, told the Global Times on Friday. 

Lu said that the UK-headquartered hotel group has already opened 658 hotels under 12 brands in China, and nearly 500 more are in the pipeline. "In fact, we are the first and the biggest multinational hotel group operating in China. We have operations in more than 200 cities, and we will continue to step up such a momentum," Lu said.

The recovery in China's tourism sector has become a highlight in China's economic rebound since the beginning of 2023. During the just-concluded summer travel peak between June and August, total domestic trips reached about 1.84 billion, generating 1.21 trillion yuan ($160 billion) in domestic tourism revenue, according to official data. The vitality of the tourism sector has surpassed that of 2019, before the pandemic.

Other Chinese industries are also attracting great interest from foreign businesses. Xiong Haochen, vice president of government relations for the Asia Pacific at Archer Daniels Midland Co, a US-based food processing giant, said that China has always been a very important market and investment destination for the company. 

The company has nine factories and three research and development centers in China, according to Xiong. "In fact, we have been very actively looking for opportunities related to the continued expansion of our business in China," Xiong told the Global Times on Friday on the sidelines of CIFIT, adding that China and the US have great complementarity in terms of agriculture.

TCP Group, a leading food and beverage company in Thailand, has also been consistently increasing its investments in China in recent years. "China is developing its economy in a sustainable and sound manner, giving full play to its advantages of a super-large market, and continuously deepening opening-up. All these factors provide foreign companies with broader prospects for development," Supachai Junkeiat, president of TCP China, who attended the CIFIT, told the Global Times on Friday.

The growing interests among many multinationals in expanding in the Chinese market present a vivid contrast to foreign media claims of global businesses withdrawing from it. While challenges remain during China's economic recovery, Chinese officials have taken a series of measures to stabilize various aspects of the Chinese economy, including policies to stabilize foreign investment. 

Last month, China's State Council, the cabinet, issued a 24-point guideline to stabilize foreign investment, including efforts to ensure national treatment for foreign enterprises and protect foreign investment, as well as fiscal and tax support.

Chen said at CIFIT on Friday that MOFCOM will effectively carry out the 24 policy measures, consistently promote high-level opening-up and increase the level of two-way investments.