China's Zhejiang eyes world-leading business environment

NINGBO, China, June 10, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Jointly hosted by China's commerce ministry and the Zhejiang provincial government, the first China-CEEC Expo & International Consumer Goods Fair, as well as the 21st Zhejiang Investment and Trade Symposium (hereinafter referred to as the "three events") will be held in the Chinese eastern port city Ningbo from June 8 to 12, according to the Department of Commerce of Zhejiang Province.

Activities including conferences, forums, economic and trade talks, exhibitions and people-to-people exchanges will deepen cooperation between China and the Central and Eastern European Countries (CEEC) and facilitate Zhejiang's opening-up.

Zhejiang, located in the southeast coast of China, is one pioneer of China's reform and opening-up and the birthplace of China's private sector, boasting a major Chinese foreign trade province with a robust private economy. The province keeps leveraging opening-up to strengthen its economy, and has sped up the establishment of a high-level opening-up platform represented by the "three events".

"As the only national exhibition focusing on China-CEEC cooperation, this year's 'three events' will give full play to the complementary strengths of China and CEEC, highlight the focus of economic and trade cooperation featuring import and going global in particular," according to Zhejiang vice governor, Zhu Congjiu.

Zhejiang will leverage the China-CEEC "17 +1" cooperation mechanism and the development of the "17+1" economic and trade cooperation demonstration zone to make the "three events" a new platform for China-CEEC cooperation, and a new model for Zhejiang's participation in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Driven by the "three events", the economic and trade exchanges between Zhejiang, CEE and BRI countries are getting closer. In 2018, trade volume between Zhejiang and CEEC totaled 91.277 billion yuan, up 21.11 percent year on year. Zhejiang has invested 1.11 billion U.S. dollars in 197 CEEC companies, while CEEC have invested in 463 companies in Zhejiang, with a total contracted value of 854 million U.S. dollars. Zhejiang's trade volume with BRI countries totaled nearly 900 billion yuan, up over 12 percent year on year.

High-level opening-up is inseparable from high-standard reform. Zhejiang in late 2016 pioneered in cutting red tapes in administrative services, accelerating e-government services for the business sector and benefiting enterprises and the masses. For example, the customs clearance time has been cut from 16 hours to 2 hours.

As foreign investment and trade facilitation increase, Zhejiang's business environment has been optimizing, attracting many foreign-invested enterprises. In 2018, 3,529 foreign-invested enterprises were established in Zhejiang, with foreign direct investment up 13.9 percent year on year to reach 12.48 billion U.S. dollars, ranking first among China's coastal provinces and cities. By March, over 65,000 foreign-invested enterprises had been set up with more than 700 billion U.S. dollars in investment.

While attracting foreign investment, Zhejiang has also taken various measures to speed up the cultivation of local private multinational corporations, encourage and guide private enterprises to go global to operate overseas and participate in global competition. Private enterprises have led overseas investment in Zhejiang, with the emergence of several pioneering multinational enterprises such as Holley Group and Hengyi Petrochemical Group.

Driven by the active overseas investment of private enterprises, the number and amount of projects in outbound investment of Zhejiang are increasing. Last year, Zhejiang's foreign direct investment and turnover of overseas contracted projects reached 18.3 billion U.S. dollars and 7.3 billion U.S. dollars respectively, ranking high across the country. Of these, 202 projects were invested in BRI countries, with a registered overseas investment of 3.722 billion U.S. dollars, up 22.31 percent compared with 2017.

China's top legislative body in March voted overwhelmingly in favor to pass the Foreign Investment Law, the country's first unified basic law on foreign investment.

Zhejiang will take the law's implementation as an opportunity, leverage the "three events" and other important opening-up platforms to upgrade investment promotion activities, according to a senior foreign investment official with local commerce department.

Zhejiang held another provincial opening-up conference last May after 14 years, and proposed that by 2020, Zhejiang will initially become a high-quality foreign capital gathering place, a high-standard outbound investment source market, and a high-level entrepreneurial hub.

"Zhejiang's opening-up is now at a new starting point," said Sheng Qiuping, head with Zhejiang's Department of Commerce.

"The government will focus on building a high-level opening-up platform for extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits. By sticking to the highest international standards, Zhejiang will strive to build a world-leading business environment in order to promote the high-quality development of Zhejiang's economy with high-level opening-up," Sheng said.

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Source: The Department of Commerce of Zhejiang Province