At the fourth Qingdao Multinationals Summit held in the coastal city of Qingdao in eastern China’s Shandong Province, industry insiders and representatives of multinational corporations emphasized that China remains an attractive hotspot for global investment. The summit, with the theme “Multinationals and China,” aimed to foster economic collaboration between Chinese and international enterprises, with a focus on encouraging multinationals to invest in advanced manufacturing, modern services, high technology, and green industries within China.
During the three-day summit, which concluded recently, 416 multinational companies sent their top-level executives to discuss topics ranging from leveraging foreign investment to emerging trends in industrial investment layout and international cooperation in the digital economy.
Participants at the summit lauded China’s remarkable market potential, burgeoning emerging sectors, thriving industrial clusters, and a highly skilled workforce. These factors have contributed to China’s robust economic resilience, instilling foreign companies with unwavering confidence to continue investing in the country.
Sean Yan, the head of marketing in northeast China for Konecranes, a Finnish company specializing in crane and lifting equipment, emphasized China’s significance, stating, “China is one of the largest industrial and consumer markets around the world. An enterprise of a certain size cannot further expand without including the Chinese market.” Konecranes has recently established its North-East Asia headquarters in Shanghai to further cater to the needs of the Chinese market.
China’s manufacturing sector, with its comprehensive capabilities, plays a pivotal role in global industrial and supply chains, offering fresh growth opportunities to multinational corporations. Moreover, China is not just a manufacturing hub but also a major innovator. Its key industries are shifting from labor-intensive to technology-intensive sectors, such as automobiles, materials, and electronic components, as highlighted by Tetsuro Homma, the representative director and executive vice president of Panasonic Holdings Corporation, a Japanese multinational.
Having been part of the Chinese market for 45 years, Panasonic now employs approximately 50,000 people in China, and the Chinese market accounts for 27 percent of its global sales. The company has a research and development team of nearly 10,000 researchers in China, underlining its growing investment in the country.
For the fourth time, the German industrial automation company Festo attended the Qingdao summit. Li Feng, COO of Festo BR GCN and general manager of Festo Production Ltd., stressed that China’s commitment to enhanced openness and the sharing of development benefits further reinforces Festo’s efforts to localize its operations in the Chinese market.
According to Li, “The stable and secure business environment during Festo’s 30 years in China has laid the foundation for our development. The strong support of relevant policies and intellectual property protection for multinationals are also vital in the global expansion of multinational companies.”
During the summit, an event was launched to promote foreign investment and support the stable, long-term development of foreign-funded enterprises. Andy Liew, the general manager of nVent Enclosure APAC, a leading designer and manufacturer of electrical enclosures, praised China’s investment agencies for their pragmatic and service-oriented approach, stating that they actively address challenges and assist enterprises in problem-solving.
The World Investment Report 2023 from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development indicated that while global cross-border direct investment has shown signs of recovery in the past two years, it still faces uncertainty due to rising protectionism and anti-globalization sentiments. China’s continued commitment to opening up has sent a positive signal to global investors.
A report presented at the summit by the Ministry of Commerce, titled “Multinationals in China: Certainty in the Uncertain Global Investment Environment,” revealed that China’s measures to optimize the foreign investment environment in 2022 were effective. From 2020 to 2022, China experienced an average annual growth rate of 12.5 percent in foreign direct investment (FDI) inflow, with over 40,000 foreign-funded enterprises established each year.
John R Adler, CEO of ZAP Surgical Systems, Inc., a leader in surgical robotics, expressed his appreciation for China’s development, noting the great opportunities it offers. Mohammed Y. Al Qahtani, downstream president of Saudi Aramco, a world-leading energy company, highlighted the strong partnership between China and Saudi Arabia and expressed optimism about the future of their collaboration in China.
The sentiment among summit participants is that China’s allure as an investment destination remains strong, and the future holds even more promising chapters for businesses looking to invest in the country.