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Vistra sees Chinese firms facing challenges in global expansion

By WANG KEJU | China Daily | Updated: 2024-05-08 10:43
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Chinese enterprises are confronted by various geopolitical, trade policy and global economic challenges as they shape their global expansion strategies; hence, they are increasingly tapping into emerging sectors and leveraging technology and innovation to navigate the complexities of the international landscape and achieve sustainable growth, said a senior executive.

Zhang Hailiang, business head and regional managing director for Vistra Greater China. [Photo provided to]

Chinese companies' overseas expansion efforts have evolved from solely accessing markets and resources to encompass aspects like brand promotion, technology transfer, operational expertise and capital investments, said Zhang Hailiang, business head and regional managing director for Vistra Greater China. Vistra is a provider of business services headquartered in Hong Kong.

In recent years, several emerging industries, including consumer goods retail, cross-border e-commerce and overseas warehousing, have embarked on international expansion, exploring new markets and opportunities, Zhang said.

The popular online fast-fashion retailer Shein, for instance, has achieved success by sourcing products from Chinese manufacturers and leveraging local suppliers, which created a lightning-fast supply chain.

Shein made its debut in the United States market in 2015, and its sales experienced an unprecedented surge, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. The company had a revenue of about $22.7 billion in 2022.

Additionally, technology-driven innovations such as telemedicine and big data, as well as new energy and environmental protection, are also making their mark on the global stage, Zhang said, adding that China's manufacturing sector has demonstrated its ability to adapt, evolve and enhance its position in the global marketplace, steadily ascending the value chain.

In particular, the Chinese government recognizes the importance of nurturing competitive, globally oriented enterprises and has implemented various policies to facilitate and encourage companies to venture beyond national borders, Zhang said.

China's nonfinancial outbound direct investment, as shown by data from the Ministry of Commerce, increased 16.7 percent year-on-year to 916.99 billion yuan ($127.05 billion) in 2023.

That said, in an ever-evolving landscape shaped by geopolitics, trade policies and global economic conditions, Chinese enterprises face the challenge of formulating and adjusting their global expansion strategies, Zhang said, emphasizing the need to address such operational and administrative frustrations related to taxes, legal entity management and regulatory compliance, among others.

With over 9,000 experts in more than 50 markets, Vistra has witnessed a growing number of Chinese firms looking for assistance in addressing the complexity of expanding their global business, Zhang said.

Going forward, as more Chinese companies gear up for overseas expansion, they need to be mindful of the intricacies involved. Factors like cultural differences, regulatory frameworks, legal requirements and market competition demand careful planning, market research and a deep understanding of the target countries' business environment.

Service providers like Vistra can help domestic firms to develop a clear and well-defined expansion strategy that takes into account the specific markets, target customers and business objectives, and identify potential challenges, Zhang said.

This not only mitigates risks and lowers their costs, but also establishes a solid foundation for sustainable growth and success in the global marketplace, he said.

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