Business / Economy

China eyes 'explosive' overseas investment

(Xinhua) Updated: 2012-07-27 10:43

BEIJING -- Overseas investment from Chinese companies will see "explosive growth" over the next decade, as the government has reaffirmed a strategy to encourage enterprises to invest overseas, experts said.

Two investment moves by major Chinese multinational companies drew international attention earlier this week.

China National Offshore Oil Corporation said Monday that it has entered an agreement to buy Canada's Nexen Inc for $15.1 billion.

Sinopec Group, the parent company of China's top oil refiner Sinopec Corp, announced the same day that it would buy a 49-percent stake in Talisman Energy's operations in the North Sea at a price of $1.5 billion.

Zhang Yansheng, secretary-general of the Academic Committee of China's National Development and Reform Commission, said Thursday that the country's overseas investment surged 40.8 percent annually from 2006 to 2010, much higher than the 9.6-percent annual growth of foreign direct investment registered during the same period.

Since 2000, China has implemented a national strategy that encourages Chinese companies to "go global", or invest overseas.

The strategy was reiterated in the country's official 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15), which was endorsed by China's top legislature in March 2011.

"The scale of China's overseas direct investment would catch up with its FDI, or become even larger, on the back of the government's stance to step up implementing its go-global strategy," Zhang said.

Chinese enterprises will enter a stage of "global investment, production, sales and services" in the next five to 10 years, Zhang said.

In the 12th Five-Year Plan, China has urged companies investing overseas to better carry out their social responsibilities and make greater contributions to the host countries' social development.

A report released this March by the World Economic Forum and the Boston Consulting Group said major Chinese multinational companies are making active efforts to engage in corporate citizenship as they expand into the global market.

"Chinese multinationals are aligning their profits with real and lasting contributions to the local communities in which they operate," the report said.

During the 2006-2010 period, employment opportunities provided to local citizens by Chinese multinationals grew at an annual rate of 28 percent.

In 2010 alone, Chinese multinationals employed around 1 million people, 71 percent of whom were local citizens, said the report.

"After more than 10 years of corporate citizenship development and involvement in the global context, many Chinese companies have implemented good citizenship practices as part of their overseas engagement, ranging from daily operations to being listed on foreign stock exchanges," the report said.

Zhang said this change from the previous five-year plan showed that China is now emphasizing both attracting FDI and investing overseas.

His views were echoed by Zhang Monan, an analyst with the Economic Forecasting Department of the State Information Center.

"Overseas investment by Chinese companies will witness a round of explosive growth in the next 10 years, because it is a general trend for Chinese companies to invest overseas," Zhang Monan said.

She said China's drive to open up its economy will reach a new level in the next decade, and Chinese companies will divert their focus from goods export to capital export.

"China's overseas investment has accelerated in the past years, but remains small compared with the goods export," she said, adding that overseas investment still has much room for expansion.

The country's overseas investment has focused mainly on some Asian, Latin American and African countries in the past. "We should invest more in developed economies to make the investment structure more balanced than before," she said.

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