Business / Companies

Foshan reaps benefits of shifts in focus

By Qiu Quanlin in Foshan, Guangdong (China Daily) Updated: 2014-11-01 07:40

A well-developed economic structure and an increasingly open investment environment have helped the traditional southern manufacturing city of Foshan, in Guangdong province, to a significant rise in trade in the first three quarters of the year.

According to the latest customs figures, its trade volume increased by 11.4 percent year-on-year to $48.8 billion in the first nine months, a much higher rate than the national average of 3.3 percent in the period. Its exports, specifically, rose by 12.3 percent year-on-year to $33.2 billion.

"In contrast to the relatively lower growth in trade by most cities, as overseas demand weakens, Foshan fared better this year because of an active, substantial economy," said Lu Yi, the Pearl River Delta city's acting mayor.

"We have boosted our efforts to adjust the real economic structure by introducing advanced industries over the years, which have played a significant role in helping maintain sustainable economic and trade development."

Lu was speaking to a group of reporters from Europe and countries and regions along the ancient Maritime Silk Road, who were on an economic, social and cultural fact-finding frip to Guangdong, long considered as South China's economic and manufacturing powerhouse.

Lu said that the city's 370,000 private companies created more than 61 percent of Foshan's gross domestic production last year.

Most were engaged in traditional industries including equipment manufacturing, household appliances, ceramics and construction materials, furniture and garments.

But a growing number, he said, are also emerging from new industry sectors such as photoelectronics, environmental protection, medicine and new energy.

"We are making every effort to create an open investment environment, which has helped boost trade," Lu said.

Foshan's growing international reputation is underlined by figures which show 59 of the world's top 500 enterprises have now invested in 110 projects there, and this year overseas investment has reached $46.5 million, a 102.59 percent surge year-on-year.

Wang Zheng, deputy director of Foshan's commerce bureau, said increased demand from emerging markets, especially from countries and regions along the Maritime Silk Road, had helped boost local exports.

"A growing number of local companies have attached greater importance to developing business in emerging markets, after their business slowed in traditional, developed markets in recent years," Wang said.

Greater numbers of Foshan's businesses have also been keen, said Wang, to participate in major overseas industrial and trade fairs, to help promote products and services in emerging markets.

Oleno Underwear Group Co Ltd, based in Nanhai, a district of Foshan which has gathered together many underwear manufacturers, is just one of those to have enjoyed rich rewards from a switch to emerging markets as business slowed in the West.

"We have been giving priority to the quality of our products, which are in demand both in traditional and emerging markets," said He Bingxiang, president of Oleno.

Its sales reached more than 1 billion yuan ($163.6 million) in 2013, and have already increased more than 20 percent year-on-year in the first three quarters of this year, He said.

"After experiencing fast growth in emerging markets, we are now planning to open a manufacturing plant in Southeast Asia."

Foshan reaps benefits of shifts in focus

Foshan reaps benefits of shifts in focus

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