Q1 foreign investment tops 300b yuan, ministry says
China will remain increasingly attractive to foreign investment, as the world's second-largest economy continuously improves its business environment and expands its domestic market under the dual circulation development paradigm, according to experts and business leaders.
The Ministry of Commerce reported on Thursday that the first quarter of 2021 saw the country's actual use of foreign investment hitting 302.47 billion yuan ($46.35 billion), up 39.9 percent year-on-year.
"Compared with the same period in 2019, the country's actual use of foreign investment during the first quarter saw an increase of 24.8 percent," ministry spokesman Gao Feng said at a news briefing.
In US dollar terms, China's actual use of foreign capital in the first quarter reached $44.86 billion, up 43.8 percent year-on-year.
Moreover, 10,263 foreign-invested enterprises were established during the period, up 47.8 percent year-on-year. The figure was 6.7 percent higher than the same period in 2019.
Zhang Fei, associate director of the Institute of Foreign Investment of the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, said the data demonstrates the upward momentum of China's use of foreign capital, considering the number of newly established foreign-invested enterprises and the amount of foreign investment have both swelled significantly no matter how they are compared with the same period last year or in 2019.
"Foreign companies have generally enjoyed high-level profit growth in the China market, which enhanced their confidence to keep investing in China, thanks to continuously enhanced negative lists, the ever-improving business environment and the efforts by local governments at different levels to serve foreign investment projects," Zhang said.
She also said the quality of China's use of foreign investment is also improving, as inflows of foreign capital into high-tech industries, especially high-tech services, keep growing quickly, while sources of foreign investment also expand.
Rapid foreign investment growth in high-tech services is mainly propelled by favorable policies on opening-up in the services sector, she added.
Data from the ministry showed the actual use of foreign capital in the services sector rose 51.5 percent year-on-year to hit 237.79 billion yuan during the first quarter.
The high-tech sector's actual use of foreign capital expanded 32.1 percent on a yearly basis. The year-on-year growth in high-tech services was 43.9 percent and in high-tech manufacturing sectors was 2.5 percent.
As for the investment sources, inflows of foreign capital from countries participating in the Belt and Road Initiative increased by 58.2 percent, from members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations by 60 percent and from nations of the European Union by 7.5 percent on a yearly basis in the first quarter, the ministry said.
Woody Guo, president of Herbalife Nutrition China and senior vice-president of Herbalife Nutrition, a US-based multinational company, said China's efforts to further open up and protect the legitimate rights of foreign investors, and business opportunities arising from China's economic growth, have jointly firmed up the company's decision to keep investing heavily in China.
"We have noticed that China keeps opening up to the outside world in recent years and has created more development opportunities for foreign-funded enterprises," he said.
"The country's pursuit of the new dual circulation development pattern means more opportunities in the domestic consumption market for foreign-funded companies like us."
By 2030, the scale of China's health industry market is expected to exceed 16 trillion yuan, he said, adding that health and nutrition companies are sure to enjoy a promising future in China.
The company has accelerated new product launches in China. All 18 new products it launched in the Chinese market in 2020 have been selling well.
It has also established a localization strategy, building its first product innovation center globally in China. The Herbalife Nutrition Product Innovation Center started operations at the end of last year in Shanghai.