The growth of the Binhai New Area is boosting Japanese firms' confidence in Tianjin, and a growing number are gearing up to cement economic ties with local partners in the coastal city.
"From a broad perspective, the development of the Binhai New Area will improve the overall investment environment in Tianjin, facilitating infrastructure construction, bringing in more global players and management know-how, enriching the city's service functions and cultivating a quality labor force," Zhang Ju, president of Rohm Semiconductor (China) Co Ltd, told China Daily.
All these will lead to more business opportunities for Rohm and, more specifically, be a shot in the arm for the company's overall strategy for Tianjin and China, which, from next year, aims to enhance local sales performance, Zhang said.
"There is a lot of sales potential and we are glad we decided to invest in Tianjin in 2000," he said.
As a new growth engine for China, the Binhai New Area will not only fuel Tianjin's development, but also drive the growth of the country's vast northern hinterland. Aware of this opportunity, Rohm is discussing the possibility of creating a new sales center in the city.
With its headquarters in Japan, the global semiconductor and electronics giant is looking to boost its client base in China next year, Zhang said.
"With so many potential clients in adjacent provinces and cities, we are thinking about boosting our sales functions in Tianjin," Zhang said.
The company currently has three major sales centers in China, in Shenzhen, Shanghai and Beijing, under which are more than 20 sub-centers, including Tianjin.
With the Binhai New Area and Tianjin receiving more policy support from China's top economic regulators, Rohm is also expecting the city's financial, logistics services and sourcing environments to improve.
"Cheap labor used to be the top attraction for us, but now we are also looking at Tianjin's financial and logistics services and local sourcing. We may shift some logistics and sourcing functions to local service providers," Zhang said.
Logistics services provider Tianjin T&B Okaya International Logistics Co Ltd is an example of the development of the investment and service environment in the Binhai New Area.
Set up in 2003, the Sino-Japanese joint venture benefits from preferential tax and customs policies from the local government. It broke even in 2005 and made a profit last year.
Xia Jianzhong, the general manager of T&B Okaya, said the company will next year look to attract more Japanese customers with its management system and global sales networks.
The Binhai New Area, which covers nearly 2,300 sq km, was designed to provide a gateway to North China, as well as being a modern manufacturing and research base, and an international shipping and logistics center.