Zhou Xianwang (right), director-general of the provincial commerce department talks with a UN official.
The Hubei government plans to use business representatives abroad to increase investment in the province, according to the head of its Commerce Department.
A marketing center was already established by Hubei, in the United States, in 2009, and its has made substantial progress in expanding overseas, Zhou Xianwang, director-general of the provincial commerce department said.
Similar operations are planned for Africa, the European Union and South Asia, to help local business explore abroad and to tailor services to overseas investors, Zhou said.
The province already has 87 Fortune 500 firms investing in it and 19 multinationals with R&D centers. It got $20.1 billion in foreign capital during the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-2010).
Outward investment has seen marked growth, expanding from trade to production, and from underdeveloped regions to developed countries, Zhou added. In 2010, its projects abroad had $3.27 billion in business revenues, putting it in 6th place, among rival Chinese provinces.
Engineering contracts signed with foreign counterparts were worth more than $25 billion and covered 93 countries and regions.
In the past five years, local leaders let 134 companies and institutions set up offices abroad with a combined investment of $590 million, or 6.4 times the amount for the 2001 to 2005 period.
In 2010, total consumer goods sales rose to nearly 672 billion yuan ($102 billion), from 2005's less than 300 billion yuan, increasing 17.8 percent annually.
Foreign trade was worth $25.19 billion last year, putting Hubei in 12th place in China, from 13th in 2005.
It ranked 13th in exports among provinces, up from 2005's 16th place, thanks to high-tech and mechanical-electronic products.
"Hubei is getting closer to the world," Zhou said. Its port shipments increased 82.3 percent to about 18 million tons last year. Also, new air routes from Wuhan to Taiwan, Macao and Japan's Fukuoka were opened, with an annual passenger use reaching 345,000, for all the province's airports.
(China Daily 03/14/2011 page3)