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Multinationals ready to embrace new opportunities in Chinese market Release date: 2024-03-26    Source:Xinhua

As China saw its economy begin the year on a solid note and press ahead with policies to maintain sound development, multinationals are ready to take the pulse of the Chinese market, as well as growth drivers generated from innovation.

At the China Development Forum (CDF) 2024, an annual high-level international conference, held from Sunday to Monday, leaders of multinationals expressed their confidence in the economy and businesses prospects in China.

"L'Oreal will continue to invest in China as we believe that investing in China is investing in the future," said Nicolas Hieronimus, chief executive officer (CEO) of the France-based cosmetic giant, adding that the CDF reflects China's determination to embrace a new era of high-quality development.

Themed "The Continuous Development of China," the forum attracted about 400 delegates, including business leaders, scholars, and representatives from international organizations keen to exchange ideas, and officials from the Chinese central government's departments who introduced China's policy at the forum.

Firm steps, bright outlook

Milind Pant, CEO of Amway Corp., said China has been the company's largest, fastest growing and most important strategic market for over 20 years.

Amway China has seen a sales growth of 7 percent annually on average over the past three years, said Pant, adding that Amway will continue to invest in China.

"China's advantage presented by complete industry chains and innovative ecosystems are now widely recognized and highly regarded by multinationals," he said.

The company is also a witness to and beneficiary of China's opening-up policy. The country has taken steps such as shortening the negative list for foreign investment, setting up some pilot free trade zones, and implementing the Foreign Investment Law.

China issued an action plan to further attract and utilize foreign investment earlier this month, proposing 24 measures across five aspects, such as expanding market access, facilitating the flow of innovation factors, as well as better aligning domestic rules with high-standard international economic and trade rules.

Kim Fausing, president and CEO of Danfoss, a leading Danish energy efficiency solution company, said China's reaffirmed pledge to further opening-up and improvements to the business environment, especially the protection of intellectual property rights, gives them strong confidence to continue investing in the country.

In April, Danfoss will launch the construction of the second phase of their Haiyan campus in Zhejiang Province, east China, which is also its largest manufacturing base in China.

Pascal Soriot, CEO of British biopharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca, said the company had been in China for over 30 years and noted that it had become its important growth engine by revenue.

"China is absolutely critical for the world growth. If China doesn't grow, the world is not growing," said Antoine de Saint-Affrique, CEO of Danone, a food and beverage multinational.

De Saint-Affrique said that Chinese government is doing its commitment of around 5 percent growth rate in a way that is sustainable, and is unleashing the new quality productive forces, which gives him huge confidence in the market.

New growth drivers, new opportunities

Making strides in new quality productive forces, featuring high-tech, high efficiency and high quality, is high on China's agenda this year. For foreign businesses, this offers insight into new business opportunities in China.

China will boost industrial innovation via technological innovation, speed up upgrading of traditional industries, and foster emerging industries, Zheng Shanjie, head of the National Development and Reform Commission, said at the CDF.

Soriot considers it a "tremendously exciting and important in the field of healthcare." "We are here because China is at the forefront of using artificial intelligence, biotechnology, and renewable energy to shape the future of healthcare, and we believe that Chinese-born innovation can help millions of patients worldwide," he said.

AstraZeneca recently concluded an agreement to invest 475 million U.S. dollars to build a new small molecule factory in Wuxi, Jiangsu Province, east China, which will focus on sustainable manufacturing. In February, it announced that Shanghai had become its fifth global strategic hub.

The company signed a memorandum of understanding for strategic cooperation with its Chinese partners during the CDF to explore modes of collaboration in vaccines.

Ola Kallenius, chairman of the board of management of Mercedes-Benz Group, expressed the company's commitment to deepening its footprint in China, advancing electric and digital transformation along with its Chinese partners at the forum.

"China is not only the largest market for new energy vehicles (NEVs), but also an innovation hub with industry-leading companies and a mature NEV supply chain," he said, adding that he believes that the Chinese market will continue to grow and play a leading role in innovating the industry.

L'Oreal has invested in two new fulfillment centers in east China's Suzhou and Nantong recently to support the rapidly growing e-commerce sector across the country, said Hieronimus, adding that China is home to one of the company's three beauty tech hubs worldwide.

As new quality productive forces feature technological breakthroughs, it brings more cooperation space to multinationals, said Jack Chan, chairman of EY China and regional managing partner of EY Greater China.

Overseas enterprises can make full use of their experience to research and develop in China, as well as tap into the huge Chinese market to promote the application of scientific achievements, he said.

By Wang Siyuan