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Global firms seen tapping nation's inland regions Release date: 2022-05-12    Source:China Daily

Expansion of China's "encouraged industry" catalog for foreign investment will enable global companies to enter more segments in the sectors of manufacturing and services in the country's western, central and northeastern regions, experts and business leaders said on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, China unveiled a draft version of the industry catalog, which is expected to pave the way for higher foreign investment. The catalog added 238 items, with 50 items counted up in the national list, and 188 items, including coffee processing and auto parts manufacturing, in the list tailored for central and western regions.

This was stated in a notice issued by the National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Commerce.

The existing version of the catalog was approved in late 2020 and took effect in January 2021. Compared with the 2020 version, the draft version revised 114 items and deleted 38 items. The government is seeking public comment through June 10, before making the next move.

As the country's central, western and northeastern parts are keen on more global capital, the updated regional-level sub-catalog highlights local strengths in labor, special resources and local needs to attract investment from overseas entities.

The revised catalog seeks to further remove barriers to global companies. Therefore they can look forward to investing in the country's western and central regions where labor-intensive projects are expected to create jobs, especially in manufacturing and services, said Wei Xiaoquan, a researcher specializing in regional economic development at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing.

Backed by their mature scientific research and talent bases, transportation infrastructure and lower living costs, as well as local markets' strong consumption power, provinces in China's central region, such as Hubei and Henan, will be major destinations to attract foreign direct investment in the coming years, particularly in the field of high-tech industries, he said.

New items added to the national-level sub-catalog include components and parts, equipment manufacturing, professional design, and technical services and development, said the notice.

These policies will consolidate China's position in the global industrial and supply chains, said Bai Ming, deputy director of international market research at the Beijing-based Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation.

In the first quarter of this year, FDI flows into China surged 25.6 percent year-on-year to 379.87 billion yuan ($59.66 billion), Commerce Ministry data showed.

Meanwhile, FDI in the central region rose nearly 61 percent year-on-year; that in the eastern region rose 23 percent, while the western region saw a 22 percent jump.

Bai said FDI flows into China will remain steady this year as many global companies are considering not only the sheer size of the country's market but its rising profile in the international division of industries, significance of its complete industrial system, and future industrial and consumption upgrades.

Stefan Hartung, board chairman of Robert Bosch GmbH, a German industrial and technology giant, said China remains the largest single market for the group. To tap long-term potential, the company will continue to invest in China, especially in strategic growth areas like electrification, hydrogen, fuel cells, artificial intelligence and the internet of things.

After seeing its 2021 sales revenue in China soar 9.6 percent year-on-year to 128.6 billion yuan, Bosch announced it will hire 4,000 new positions to help further drive local innovations in the country this year.

By Zhong Nan