Foreign companies show confidence in Chinese economy

Updated: March 21, 2022 Source: China Daily
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Visitors check the booth of Herbalife Nutrition, a United States-based global nutrition company, at the 4th China International Import Expo in Shanghai on Nov 5. [Provided to China Daily]

BEIJING-Despite the protracted COVID-19 pandemic and increasingly complex global environment, foreign companies are casting a vote of confidence in the Chinese economy as they continue to see opportunities amid the country's opening-up efforts.

The 2022 China Business Climate Survey Report released by the American Chamber of Commerce in China and PwC said around 60 percent of surveyed companies said they posted profits in China in 2021. Two-thirds of the firms plan to increase their investment in the country this year.

Nearly two-thirds of AmCham China's member companies listed China as the world's top or among the top three investment destinations, the report said.

Another report, released by the German Chamber of Commerce in China and KPMG, indicates that nearly 60 percent of German companies in China reported improved business operations last year and 71 percent plan to invest further in the nation.

China's attraction for foreign companies in a pandemic-jolted world came as a result of the country's steady economic recovery and improved business environment.

In 2021, the Chinese economy injected strong impetus into the global economy with its 8.1 percent GDP growth. This year, China has set its economic growth target at around 5.5 percent, which is expected to bolster the global economic recovery.

"China's sustained and steady economic growth will bring more opportunities, and we are optimistic about the development prospects of the Chinese market," said Meng Pu, chairman of Qualcomm China.

China is one of Qualcomm's largest markets and innovation bases in the world, said Meng, adding that the company's cooperation with Chinese partners has expanded to a number of fields, including smartphones, integrated circuits, software, automobiles, the internet of things and others.

China, the world's second-largest economy, saw retail sales of consumer goods rise 12.5 percent year-on-year to 44.1 trillion yuan ($6.95 trillion) in 2021, official data showed.

Herbalife Nutrition, a United States-based global nutrition company, noticed the increasing vitality of the Chinese market and the growing pursuit of healthy lifestyles by its consumers.

"We believe that the nutrition and health industry will enjoy rapid development in China, and we will continue to increase our investment here," said Woody Guo, senior vice-president and managing director of Herbalife Nutrition China.

As China continues to open its doors wider, foreign companies are seeing more business opportunities.

Foreign companies are enjoying broader prospects as the Chinese government continues to promote high-level opening-up and innovation-driven development while improving the business environment, said Zhang Heping, head of Sanofi Greater China, a French healthcare company.

China has vowed to expand high-quality and institutional opening-up, grant foreign-funded enterprises national treatment, attract more investment from multinational companies and facilitate the early implementation of major foreign-invested projects in 2022, said the tone-setting annual Central Economic Work Conference held in December.

To further open up the economy, a shortened negative list for foreign investment came into force on Jan 1, with off-limit items cut to 31 from 33 a year ago. Notably, the foreign capital cap in the auto sector was removed, and manufacturing restrictions in pilot free-trade zones were also reduced to zero.

As a window to observe a country's opening-up level and reflect its economic vitality, foreign direct investment into the Chinese mainland, in actual use, expanded 11.6 percent year-on-year to 102.28 billion yuan in January, official data showed. The growth was the fastest and the first double-digit increase for the same period since 2016.

Based on China's sound economic fundamentals and competitive advantages in market size, infrastructure and business environment, Kang Yong, chief economist of KPMG China, estimated that foreign investment in China will remain at a high level in 2022.

Editor: Yang Yifan