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30 years on, US merchant sees bright future for S. China

By LI WENFANG in Guangzhou | China Daily | Updated: 2021-06-04 09:06
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Harley Seyedin (second from left) makes an AmCham South China charity trip to Meizhou, Guangdong province, for poverty relief. CHINA DAILY

After nearly three decades in Guangdong province, Harley Seyedin has seen both his company and business chamber expand remarkably.

Seyedin is president and CEO of the American Chamber of Commerce in South China and president of Allelon Energy Partners, which is engaged in the development, construction and operation of new energy and power projects internationally. He also serves as special adviser to the chairman of the President George HW Bush Foundation for US-China Relations.

"Guangdong was the primary window for China's opening up to the outside world. Guangdong's extraordinary success in that role is a major reason for China's massive economic and social development," Seyedin said.

Through the pursuit of innovation, research and development, Guangdong has led the transformation of China's export capabilities from labor and energy-intensive low-technology products, to robotic and AI-driven value-added high-technology products."

Guangdong is one of the most advanced markets in China for investment, with a highly efficient and business-friendly government, he observed.

Membership of the American Chamber of Commerce in South China has grown from 211 in 2013, to over 2,300 this year.

The chamber compiles the Special Report on the State of Business in South China and the White Paper on the Business Environment in China each year.

"Our studies show that while in 2003, fewer than 23 percent of our companies sold what they produced in China, to China, as of our 2021 studies, 81 percent of our member companies are now in China producing goods and services for the Chinese market. This transition to moving up the value chain has been consistent with the rapid and massive development of Guangdong and China's economy, and the expansion of its consumer market."

The studies indicate that over 70 percent of member companies plan to reinvest this year to keep up with demand from customers, and to capture additional market share. Some 90 percent of members are making a profit, and the remainder expect to achieve profitability within the next two to three years.

Members report a faster pace in achieving profitability and higher profitability levels in China than at operations in other parts of the world and have reserved over $18 billion to reinvest in China over the next three to five years.

The studies also show that 94 percent of the members of the American Chamber of Commerce in South China hold highly positive views of the immediate and future development of China.

"In fact, our 2021 studies show China is the preferred investment destination for a majority of our companies, with Guangzhou and Shenzhen being ranked as the No 1 and No 2 preferred investment destinations, respectively."

The Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area is a particular bright spot in the development of the region.

"The Bay Area is comprised of the nine highly-developed mainland city dragons in Guangdong province, and the two Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macao."

Seyedin pointed to a study by Investopedia that indicates that the Bay Area's collective GDP ranks 11th in the world, and is larger than those of Spain, Australia and Mexico, and 86 percent larger than that of the Netherlands.

"The development of the Bay Area fully utilizes the capabilities of these advanced locations, making possible the integration and the acceleration of innovation. This is creating a driver for the technologically advanced future development of Southern China, and at the same time, contributing immensely to the advancement and development of China as a whole," he noted.

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