Employees from Japan¡¯s Canon Inc set up their display booth yesterday ahead of the CIFIT, which has again attracted many big names from China and around the world.


By flipping through the pages of recent issues of China Business Weekly, one can easily see stories about foreign companies trying to establish,
or expand, their operations on the Chinese mainland.
The current issue says Japanese supplier of hard disc drives, Hitachi, has announced it will spend several hundred million dollars to move the majority of its global media manufacturing operations from the United States and Japan to Shenzhen, a booming town in South China.
Wal-Mart, ON Semiconductor and Budweiser also announced recently their intention to expand their businesses in China; the Bank of America Corp said it will cut jobs in Hong Kong and Singapore and open new facilities in South China¡¯s Guangdong Province; and Thailand chain store Ek Chor Lotus
is racing against time to open two shops in Beijing.
Foreign investors are attracted to China because of three favourable conditions: Fast, steady economic growth, the huge consumer market and
inexpensive labour resources.
When defending its plan to move more jobs from the United States to China and other developing countries, IBM said it had no option if it wanted to remain competitive because many other companies were doing the same thing.
ON Semiconductor also explained its plan to increase investment in China¡¯s productdesigning and logistics sectors by saying it ¡°aims to become the best supplier in this extremely important market.¡±
The market appears to have limitless potential. Take supermarkets, for example. French retailers Auchan and Meroy Merlin, Spanish chain store operator DIA, German firms OBI and Metro, and Britain¡¯s B&Q recently
began their marches into Beijing, China¡¯s capital. More newcomers, such as
Japan¡¯s 7-Eleven, will also enter the market. One may worry whether the
market is big enough to accommodate so many competitors. No problem. You do not have to look beyond the long queues at checkout counters ¡ª in Carrefour, Hualian, Wumei or any other supermarket in Beijing and Shanghai ¡ª to realize how keen Chinese consumers are.
If you need more, stronger evidence of Chinese urban residents¡¯ purchasing power, try to find a street in a city without a restaurant. Official statistics clearly indicate there is ample room for foreign retailers.
Beijing will allow foreign retailers¡¯ sales revenues to make up 25 per cent of the city¡¯s total by 2010.
Currently, they are allowed to contribute about 5 per cent. Of course, Beijing is a metropolis, and more of its residents, compared with small
communities and rural areas, have bulging purses.
Lack of consumption by rural residents baffles authorities, who desperately want to foster healthier growth of the gross domestic product (GDP).
High domestic spending is the major contributor to a healthy and steady GDP growth. But there is no disputing China¡¯s consumer market is incomparably enormous. China, which last year replaced the United States as the largest receiver of foreign investment, is facing a new wave of capital.
It is only natural that international investors favour this sunny land over the stillgloomy global economic realm. No wonder the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development has chosen Xiamen, in South China, as the venue to release this year¡¯s World Investment Report during the CIFIT.

Cai Limin

Express staff

Looking to expand co-operation, North China¡¯s Hebei Province will introduce a series of key projects with great expectations during the Seventh China International Fair for Trade and Investment (CIFIT).

¡°The projects cover such areas as civil infrastructure, restructured and reformed
State-owned enterprises (SOEs), agriculture, high and new technologies, logistics and tourism, which have good market potential and high investment
returns,¡± said Vice-Governor Cai Limin.
Meanwhile, a delegation from the province is also bringing a batch of quality products with a good reputation to the festival for demonstration and
trading, said Cai.
Being a province with a gross domestic product (GDP) of 612.25 billion yuan (US$74 billion) last year, ranking sixth in the country, Hebei has set up economic and trade connections with some 160 countries and regions. Investors from over 80
countries and regions have business operations in the province, according to Cai.
Linking with the country¡¯s northwestern, northeastern, northern, eastern and central areas, the province has a huge volume of information, merchants and goods flows.
The economic areas consisting of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei hold more than 10 per cent for the country¡¯s total market volume.
Talking about co-operation with foreign investors, Cai said the province has a scheme to introduce foreign capital during the readjustment of the
provincial economic structure, the reallocation and restructuring of SOEs, and the upgrading of technologies and cities¡¯ modernization levels.
¡°The province attaches more attention in alluring advanced technologies, professional technicians and management from the outside so that it can make further use of foreign investment,¡± Cai said.
According to Cai, investors will find profits in the following sectors, which include: SOE estructuring: Foreign investors are encouraged to participant in technological renovation in building materials, chemical engineering, medicines, machinery, food,
textiles and light industry. High and new technology: The province has preferential policies for information, biotechnology, modern medicines,
new materials and new energies sectors. Multinational enterprise transfers: The province has put co-operation with the world¡¯s top 500 enterprises as a priority. Local government wants
multinationals to set up manufacturing bases, purchasing bases and research and development
centres in the province. Infrastructure: Foreign
capital will be wisely invested in the province¡¯s transportation, water conservation, power, water supplying and civil gas systems.
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It will provide the opportunity for comprehensive communication and exchanges between Chinese and foreign enterprises. Some countries such as Britain, Sweden, Singapore and regions like Hong Kong, will set up booths and carry out their respective ¡°pavilion day¡± activities to enhance their images and attract foreign investment. In addition, many large multinationals and international agencies will also set up booths at the Fair.
UNCTAD will, for the first time, hold a news conference during the Seventh CIFIT to release the World Investment Report 2003 and to evaluate the current international direct investment situation and trends.
During the CIFIT, the Ministry of Commerce will also hold the 2003 International Investment Forum, with the theme of ¡°Improving the Investment Environment and Creating International Competitiveness.¡± High-level officials and leaders from transnational coroprations will be invited to the Forum to deliver speeches.
The Ministry of Commerce will hold more than 20 seminars during the CIFIT. CIFIT is a pivotal platform for promoting foreign investment in China and encouraging Chinese enterprises to invest overseas. It provides invaluable information about
new trends in international direct investment and foreign investment policies.
It also offers a good opportunity for Chinese Government departments and entrepreneurs to further contacts with government officials and representatives from the industrial, commercial and financial business circles of various countries, to enhance mutual trust and to strengthen co-operation to achieve common development.
The success of the Seventh CIFIT will be attributed to the unremitting efforts and sincere co-operation of all member organizations.
On behalf of the Organizing Committee of the Seventh CIFIT, I would like to express our hearty thanks to UNCTAD for choosing to release the annual World Investment Report at the Fair, as well as all member organizations for their efforts, and warmly welcome distinguished guests and friends from all over the world.
I wish all friends attending the Fair great achievements and the complete success of the Seventh CIFIT!