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Chinese firms expected to grow steadily overseas

By ZHONG NAN | China Daily | Updated: 2020-02-28 04:31
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LONGi's employees maintain a solar power station at Tongxin county, Ningxia Hui autonomous region in Northwest China, in September 2018. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Chinese companies will manage to achieve reasonable growth in overseas markets in fields such as project development, manufacturing and services this year, despite the novel coronavirus pneumonia epidemic, said business leaders and officials.

The nation's pace of outbound direct investment will not be seriously disrupted by the outbreak, analysts said.

The Ministry of Commerce and business associations have urged companies operating overseas to prepare adequate protective materials and make emergency plans to cope with risks posed by the epidemic.

The Chinese government has also maintained close communication with the host countries to facilitate the entry of project personnel and the clearance of equipment and materials.

LONGi Green Energy Technology Co, a major Chinese manufacturer of monocrystalline silicon photovoltaic products, is giving priority to increasing production at its plant in Kuching, Malaysia, to supply clients in China and other parts of the world to offset losses caused by domestic interruptions to production and transportation.

Li Feng, brand director of LONGi Green Technology Co, said the outbreak will have a limited impact on the company's operation and productions. At the moment, the company is organizing the gradual resumption of work nationwide.

The company, which is headquartered in Xi'an, Shaanxi province, plans to expand its operations in Malaysia with the construction of a plant to manufacture monocrystalline cells.

To avoid possible customs clearance barriers in foreign countries, the China Chamber of International Commerce advised Chinese companies operating overseas to increase their purchases of production materials and machinery parts from third-party countries during the outbreak.

China Railway Construction Corp, one of the country's two biggest rail construction contractors by sales revenue, reported that it had successfully installed the main steel frame of Lusail Stadium in Qatar last week for the nation's hosting of the soccer World Cup in 2022.

CRCC Chairman Chen Fenjian said the group will resume production in an orderly manner at domestic and overseas projects and plants, and encourage local employees and third-party contractors in overseas markets to better allocate resources.

The company announced that it recently sealed a $51.63 million deal to build apartments and supporting facilities in the Genting Highlands of Malaysia.

Cooperation projects related to the Belt and Road Initiative are generally running smoothly with no major delays amid the outbreak, said Chu Shijia, director-general of the Ministry of Commerce's comprehensive affairs department.

Such projects are closely monitored, and a string of measures have been taken to minimize the epidemic's impact, he said, adding that strict epidemic case checks and reporting are required among staff working overseas to prevent the virus's spread.

To prevent possible infections, the government requires companies either to delay or reduce the number of overseas trips and long-term assignments for their employees, before China officially announces the epidemic is ended.

As the epidemic is largely a regional and likely a short-term event in China, the resumption of production of Chinese companies abroad will not only boost the global economy, but also show the world that China's opening-up and the pace of outbound direct investment will not be derailed by the outbreak, said Ma Yu, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation in Beijing.

China must continue to enhance ties with global partners to jointly develop projects in fields including leasing and business services, manufacturing, wholesale and retail, and diversify trading channels, especially in economies involved in the Belt and Road initiative, he added.

Domestic companies invested $1.59 billion in 47 economies related to the Belt and Road initiative in January, surging by 19.5 percent year-on-year, according to data released earlier this week by the Ministry of Commerce.

China Railway Rolling Stock Corp, the country's biggest train manufacturer by sales revenue, has also prioritized exports and overseas operations, as well as ensuring the safety of national rail transportation amid the epidemic.

CRRC Qiqihar Co, a CRRC subsidiary in Heilongjiang province, shipped 134 coal hopper cars to Australia last week.

CRRC Zhuzhou Locomotive Co, another CRRC unit, headquartered in Hunan province, has also resumed production to fulfill more than 20 overseas orders, including supplying metro trains to Mexico, electric multiple unit trains to the Czech Republic and diesel electric multiple unit trains to the Philippines.

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