Foreign investors accelerate layouts in Central China for strategic location, rising consumer market
Expo Central China sees 284 deals worth $34.65b
Published: Jun 03, 2024 09:43 PM
The 13th Central China Investment and Trade Exposition (Expo Central China) concludes in Changsha, Central China's Hunan Province, on June 3, 2024. Photo: Expo Central China

The 13th Central China Investment and Trade Exposition (Expo Central China) concludes in Changsha, Central China's Hunan Province, on June 3, 2024. Photo: Expo Central China

The 13th Central China Investment and Trade Exposition (Expo Central China), held in Changsha, capital of Hunan Province from Friday to Sunday, attracted more than 1,000 companies from 32 countries and regions. Attendees signed 284 deals, amounting to combined investment of 251.14 billion yuan ($34.65 billion).

The continuous influx of investment and the growing confidence of multinational companies in the potential of Central China together show the positive outlook for China's investment environment in the region, and serve as a testament to the country's overall investment landscape.

Since 2006, the expo has been held in rotation in the six localities - Hunan, Hubei and Henan provinces in Central China, Anhui and Jiangxi provinces in East China, and Shanxi Province in North China, playing a crucial role in promoting the opening-up of Central China. It also aligns with China's ongoing push for the rise of the central region.

Foreign chambers attending the event were confident in investing in Central China, citing untapped market opportunities, the strategic location and rising consumer market potential.

The China UK Business Development Center (CUKBDC) brought 10 enterprises to attend the event to seek cooperation opportunities in the central China regions. It officially opened a branch in Hunan during the expo.

"Our primary focus at the event is finance and financial services. Our goal is to connect Hunan businesses with London's financial market and potential investors, creating a robust tripartite network," Jiang Haofang, president of the CUKBDC in China, told the Global Times on Monday.

There are substantial business opportunities in regional markets between China and the UK, especially given the changing global environment, as well as cooperation in life sciences, such as medical services and new drug development, said Jiang.

Jelena Grubor Stefanovic, director of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia's representative office in China, told the Global Times on Monday that the Serbian delegation had a very productive and informative visit to Changsha and the Expo Central China.

After successfully entering the markets of Changsha and Zhangjiajie in Hunan Province with wine and agricultural products, Serbian businesses are looking to expand further and they're interested in green technology and industrial machinery opportunities in Central China.

"We hope this will be one of the key regions in our collaboration with China," Stefanovic said.

The American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai also participated in the Expo Central China, bringing several member companies.

"Central China offers new opportunities for foreign investors. The six provinces that make up central China have seen impressive growth in recent years and enjoy respective comparative advantages," AmCham Shanghai President Eric Zheng told the Global Times on Monday.

The central provinces enjoy significant cost advantages in land, labor and housing. They have also developed strong manufacturing capabilities in various industries. With the central government's recent strategy to develop Central China as a regional cluster, the six provinces are well positioned to excel on a growth trajectory, Zheng said.

The six provinces are home to approximately one-quarter of China's population and contribute about one-fifth of the country's total economic output.

They also serve as a crucial grain production base, energy and raw materials base, modern equipment manufacturing and high-tech industry base, and comprehensive transport hub.

Central China is poised to be the country's next source of high economic growth. Compared with the increasing costs in the coastal areas, Central China, which boasts a strategic location and a growing consumer market, is well on its way to becoming the economic growth engine of the country, Stefanovic said.

"As a regional cluster with well-established infrastructure, industrial supply chains and a coordinated regional development strategy, it is creating new investment frontiers and new markets," Stefanovic stressed.

Foreign investors can leverage the region's status as a transport hub to expand their market reach, invest in strategic emerging industries, and capitalize on the region's industrial and consumption upgrades for mutual growth opportunities, Hong Yong, an expert at the digital real economies integration Forum 50, told the Global Times on Monday.

"The continuous optimization of the business environment and supportive policies create a strong magnet for both domestic and foreign investment in China," Hong said.

According to China's Ministry of Commerce, the number of newly established foreign-invested enterprises in the country reached 16,805 in the first four months of 2024, up 19.2 percent year-on-year.