Suzhou is located on the east side of Taihu Lake in Jiangsu Province, close to Wuxi and Shanghai. It is specially nicknamed "Venice of the East" for its unique architecture along small rivers. Similar to many other cities in the Yangtze River Delta Region, Suzhou has a domestic and international reputation for its beautiful landscapes and rich cultural heritage. In addition to its vibrant tourism industry, Suzhou's economy also benefits greatly from its manufacturing industries.
Information presented on this page are introductory business intelligence on the respective region, and thus it cannot serve as a substitute for official information released by government agencies or similar institutions. For the most up-to-date information, please refer to the information sources or speak to a Dezan Shira & Associates representative.
|Population||People||6.48 million||6.35 million||6.10 million|
|GDP||RMB||1,201.2 billion||900 billion||670.1 billion|
|Per Capita GDP||RMB||114,029||141,732||106,534|
|Minimum Monthly Wage||RMB||1370|
Suzhou is set to become a “super-large” city within the next ten years. The downtown area will be expanded into an area bounded by highways surrounding the city, while the western boundary will be extended one kilometer towards Lake Tai. Suzhou has well-developed infrastructure, and given its proximity to Shanghai, Suzhou is able to take advantage of Shanghai’s logistical access points.
Suzhou is known as the southeast gate to Shanghai and Zhejiang Province. It has gained its reputation due to its well-developed, extensive highway network. Three long-distance bus stations serve the city; the Suzhou North Bus Station is the primary station as it services the most bus routes to neighboring Anhui, Hubei, Fujian, Shandong, Jiangxi and Zhejiang Provinces. Additionally, buses depart for Shanghai from this station once every 20 minutes. Other driving options include the Jiangsu-Shanghai Expressway, the Yangtze Riverine Expressway, and the Suzhou-Jiaxin-Hangzhou expressway. In 2005, the Suzhou Outer Ring was completed. This connects Suzhou to nearby county-level cities such as Taicang, Kunshan, and Changshu.
Suzhou is an important city on the Beijing-Shanghai Railway line as well as the Jinghu Railway linking Shanghai and Nanjing. There are now four passenger Railway Stations, which are Suzhou Railway Station, Suzhou North Railway Station, Suzhou New District Railway Station and Industrial Park Railway Station. Suzhou Railway Station is among one of the busiest passenger stations in China, with 139 trains stopping daily.
Although Suzhou is an important tourist destination and business hub; the city does not have its own international airport yet. The nearby airports in Shanghai - Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport and Pudong International Airport - serve Suzhou. Hongqiao airport is 86 kilometers away from Suzhou. Shuttle buses run daily between the airport and Suzhou, with a journey time of approximately one hour and 40 minutes.
Ports & Waterways:
China’s Grand Canal, which connects Beijing to Jiaxing and Hangzhou in Zhejiang Province, passes through Suzhou. The Grand Canal has been an important means of transportation for many years.
Suzhou Port, founded in 2002, consists of Zhangjiagang (90 kilometers away from Suzhou), Changshu Port (62 kilometers away from Suzhou) and Taicang Port (72 kilometers from Suzhou). While Suzhou’s port is ranked sixth nationally in terms of general cargo and tenth nationally by TEU throughput, the majority of trade for Suzhou is carried out at Shanghai Port (120 kilometers away from Suzhou).
The highway and metro system are constantly expanding.
Suzhou has enjoyed tremendous growth in the last five years as Shanghai’s cost of manufacturing has risen, allowing Suzhou to offer a similar investment proposition with lower costs. In 2012, Suzhou’s GDP was RMB 1201.2 billion.
To sustain Suzhou’s growth, and its place in the Chinese economy, the Suzhou government takes an active part in invigorating the local economy. It acts in accordance with market economy rules as well as laying out an explicit blueprint to attract investors. Unlike many areas of China that only focus on building the hardware, Suzhou has also invested heavily in the software required to effectively attract investment.
Suzhou has planned its economy in relation to Shanghai. This relationship has been mutually beneficial and has served Suzhou well. Many foreign executives located in Shanghai consider Suzhou as a prime location for further investment, as operations can be easily managed from Shanghai. As Shanghai continues to grow, Suzhou only stands to benefit. In addition to capturing the overflow of many companies that find Shanghai too expensive, many suppliers to those manufacturing in Shanghai are located in Suzhou’s parks and the surrounding area. Due in large part to its proximity, Suzhou was one of the first regional cities that foreign companies looked at when setting up manufacturing. More and more foreign companies are continuing to move to Suzhou in order to open new factories and take advantage of the lower land and labor costs.
Other Notable Insights:
Used FDI was USD 7.34 billion in 2010, with 1,537 new foreign-invested enterprises established – the highest in the province.
Foreign managers living in the city say that Suzhou’s quality of life has improved dramatically in the last five years, and as a result they are willing to move operations to the city.
Suzhou has 25 colleges and 70 research institutions. Every year more than 50,000 new graduates enter the skilled labor force that Suzhou requires in order to drive its industry forward.
Suzhou Industrial Park
Founded in 1994, the Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP) is a joint venture between the Singapore and Suzhou governments. The Taiwan Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers Association ranked SIP first amongst all of the industrial parks in China because of its comprehensive strength, investment risk reduction, investment commitment implementation, and transparent administration environment. The zone is located next to Jinji Lake to the east of Suzhou, covering an area of 70 square kilometers and lying 30 minutes away from the city center. SIP has been responsible for the majority of the growth in Suzhou, and having been granted special status from Beijing, the park is making independent decisions that will continue to benefit the area.
SIP has maintained an annual growth rate of 30 percent for the last 13 years. Altogether, 420,000 jobs have been created. SIP is one of the most open and export-oriented places in China. In 2012, SIP attracted over 3,400 foreign enterprises, including 86 Fortune 500 Enterprises. These companies have amassed a collective foreign investment of USD 36.38 billion, and have cumulatively utilized a total foreign investment of USD 21.67 billion.
There are a number of companies with annual sales revenue of over USD 1 billion. Seventy percent of companies have gone into operation and production. Eighty percent of the companies that have sustained operations in production for over two years are profitable, and among these, nearly 25 percent have recouped their investments. In the eyes of MNCs, SIP ranks top on the list of the most investment-worthy ETDZs in China. Furthermore, a new logistics center containing 12 million square meters of warehousing was put into operation in 2007.
The SIP claims a number of key advantages for investors, such as:
Suzhou New District
Established in 1992, this state-level zone focuses on the research, development, and manufacturing of goods. In 2011, Suzhou New District increased its GDP by 14.5 percent to RMB 77.1 billion. The major industries in the zone encompass consumer electronics, precision instruments, biotechnology, and pharmaceuticals. In 2011, the district’s foreign trade value reached USD 34.07 billion and total export value exceeded USD 21 billion. Furthermore, utilized FDI increased to USD 900 million in 2011.
Xiangcheng District was established in 2012 and covers an area of approximately 50 square kilometers with the Caohu Industrial Park at its center. In January 2012, 16 projects were allocated to different firms – 8 domestic and 8 foreign – with total investment amounting to RMB 7.7 billion. Twelve of these projects are in the categories of either advanced manufacturing (precision machinery, electronic equipment components) or emerging sectors (new materials, environmental protection).