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Food executive sees good times ahead for Fujian

By Li Xiaokun and Hu Meidong (China Daily)

Updated: 2016-03-14 08:05:09


Fujian province should reach out to its 15.8 million overseas residents to help pave the way for industrial parks abroad and to encourage enterprises in the province to go global, Cai Jin'an, chairman of Panpan Food Group, a leading food supplier, said in an interview during the ongoing annual two sessions.

"Fujian people are scattered throughout Southeast Asia and many other countries," said Cai, who is also an NPC deputy. "I suggest the central government give Fujian special policies to build up industrial parks and commodity cities."

He said such outreach, supported by the Chinese government or Fujian provincial government and protected by law, could help Fujian companies to filter risks in unfamiliar markets and enable them to get help from their compatriots when facing challenges.

The way of "developing by banding together" can also help companies share resources and cut their costs, he added.

Cai also said Chinese universities should hurry to cultivate proficiency in minor languages for students.

"The Minnan dialect and English can be used in many countries. Still, we need people who are good at minor languages to fully integrate into the local culture," he said, adding that merchants from Fujian have been known for their courage to go abroad since ancient times.

And that continues, Cai said. In 2015, several hundred companies in Quanzhou city alone went abroad to invest in dozens of countries and regions, including Southeast Asia and Europe.

According to the Fujian government, the province's investment in countries along the developing 21st Century Maritime Silk Road in 2015 reached $1.38 billion, an increase of 170 percent year-on-year.

Cai said competitive Chinese companies, either in traditional industries or emerging ones, should all seek opportunities under Beijing's Go Global strategy.

"You may find it challenging at first, but you can get some shining ideas," he said.

Food companies, for instance, will find a huge market for Muslim food, especially among the countries along the routes of the Belt and Road Initiative, Cai said.

As for his own company, the products have been exported to many countries through channels including transborder e-commerce. "We have sent batches of professionals to investigate overseas markets across the Belt and Road," he said.

Panpan has established a department for overseas business and is planning to build factories abroad, with an annual output that is expected to reach 10 billion yuan ($1.54 billion) in about two years.

"Without exaggeration, the Belt and Road Initiative is a wise decision made by China to occupy the highest point in the global economic chain," Cai said, adding it will also benefit countries along the route.