By Antonio De Michele
Foshan is the third largest city in China’s wealthy Guangdong Province, and part of the immense Pearl River Delta Economic Zone.
In 2015, Foshan’s GDP reached RMB 800 billion (about US$123 billion). That year, it attracted US$2.4 billion in foreign direct investment (FDI), with an average investment size of around US$10 million – also the third biggest in Guangdong.
The city’s economy revolves around manufacturing, including the production of various types of machinery and equipment. Particularly relevant is the consumer electronics industry, which manufactures half of the world’s air conditioning units and refrigerators.
However, in alignment with China’s broader efforts to overhaul the country’s manufacturing industry, Foshan’s economic structure will pivot on the so called ‘Made in China 2025’ program, leading to new opportunities for foreign investors in the city.
In what is fast becoming a rite of passage for Chinese leaders, President Xi Jinping has decreed that the Xiongan New District be created in Hebei, about 160 km south of Beijing. The area will be developed with similar incentives and infrastructure that were put in place with the creation of Shenzhen and the Pudong New Area by predecessors Deng Xiaoping and Jiang Zemin.
The Xiongan New District is set to include Anxin, Rongcheng, and Xiongxian counties around Hebei’s Baiyangdian Lake. It will initially be a 100 km2 area but will expand to more than 2,000 km2 over time, and will house facilities such as markets, schools, research institutions, and hospitals that will be relocated from Beijing. The area is expected to form a triad between Beijing, Tianjin, and Hebei.
By Harry Handley
Jiaxing, traditionally known as ‘the home of silk’, is a prefecture-level city of 4.59 million people located in East China’s Zhejiang province. With an area of 3,915 square kilometers, Jiaxing is surrounded by Suzhou to the north, Shanghai to the east, Hangzhou and Huzhou to the west and the Hangzhou Bay to the south. In terms of infrastructure, Jiaxing is well developed with a deep-water port, high speed rail links, and six expressways linking to the wider Yangtze River Delta region.
The Chinese Academy of Social Science ranked Jiaxing the 37th most competitive city in China in 2016, a standing that has significantly increased in recent years. A push by the local government to shift away from traditional resource-heavy manufacturing and towards a more high-tech and environmentally friendly economy has led to a range of diverse industries in the city. These industries, and several special development zones within the city, present significant opportunities for foreign firms who are looking to expand their operations in China.
By Harry Handley
As host of the 2016 G20 summit, Zhejiang province has been thrust into the global spotlight in recent months. The province of 55 million people is advantageously located on China’s east coast, south of Shanghai which is easily accessible via one of the world’s transoceanic bridges spanning the Hangzhou Bay. Zhejiang boasts advanced infrastructure, with 2,600 kilometers of railway, almost 120,000 kilometers of highway, and one of the top five busiest ports in the world. These factors, along with a rapidly developing business environment, have led Zhejiang to become one of the strongest and most diverse provincial economies in China.
A growing number of foreign firms are choosing Zhejiang as the location for their Chinese investments. The province offers great opportunities to potential China entrants, including a range of economic development zones. In order to take advantage of these opportunities, the economy of Zhejiang and recent foreign direct investment (FDI) trends must be understood.
With the new dynamics of a Trump-era Presidency upon us, the world’s Western media focus has been very much on the implications of this change of executive on global trade. However, American influence over global trade is becoming increasingly Spartan as the country concentrates on established orders at the expense of ignoring the new. With both Washington and Brussels focusing too much on the might of their respective economies, nuances and influence over what is developing elsewhere are being lost. While the US still soars away from its rivals as the world’s largest economy, an emerging picture tells of an Asia that is fast catching up with American and European fiscal might.
With the United Kingdom voting to leave the European Union (EU) bloc, current media is having a field day promoting either the dreadful fate that awaits the country or celebrations of its newfound ‘freedom’. Neither camp – in or out – have yet provided a detailed breakdown of what can in fact be reasonably expected to happen. Yet having dealt for nearly 25 years with British investment in Asia – about 15 percent of our total clients at Dezan Shira & Associates have been from the UK, totaling an investment of about GBP200 million over that period – we have pedigree when it comes to assessing the mood for outbound and inbound investment coming from and into Britain.
First though, let’s examine the makeup of the EU, review its bilateral trade agreements, look at where some of the EU trade frustrations are, and the potential bilateral opportunities there for taking by the UK in light of the country leaving the EU.
As China’s economy continues its path towards reform, the make up of its still-growing receipts of foreign investment dollars continue apace. China’s FDI increased by 4.7 percent in 2015, yet the form of investment is changing. A whopping 72 percent of the US$126.3 billion invested last year was in the services sector, as global businesses continue to invest to support the selling of goods and services to Chinese consumers.
This fits right in line with Chinese government policy – China wants and needs to attract dollars into services, and has said as much. According to President Xi, “The economy has entered a new stage of slower but more resilient growth.” which Xi calls the new normal. “The essence of which is an improved economic structure that relies more on domestic consumption, the service sector and innovation.”
The so-called “Panama Papers” involving a huge leak of client information from the Panamanian Law Firm Mossack Fonseca highlights the absolute need for strong IT protection and security. Over 11 million documents were shared with a German newspaper, investigating the financial backgrounds of world leaders, in a haul larger than the documents released by Edward Snowden.
Thus far, the media has concentrated on world leaders and politicians, although the firm also has a significant presence in China. In fact, I was engaged at the practice in Hong Kong for a short while back in the early 1990s, assisting to process corporate documentation, mainly involving clients in the British Virgin Islands. Mossack Fonseca’s clients at the time were nearly all other Hong Kong based law and accounting firms, with only a handful of individuals. Most clients were using BVI companies to hold WFOE and similar investments into China, which was standard practice at the time given that China was still perceived as having some political and development risk in those days. Those that weren’t were simply using companies to own properties in Hong Kong, China, and elsewhere. All perfectly normal, standard procedures.