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HSBC: Foreign enterprises showing stronger interest in GBA investment

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An increasing number of foreign enterprises have shown interest in expanding investment in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area in the next few years, a recent survey said.

According to the survey released by international banking corp HSBC, some 70 percent of overseas businesses indicated an intention to invest more in the GBA in the years ahead, while 27 percent would scale up business significantly.

In particular, respondents from markets involved in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership are more optimistic about economic prospects in the GBA, with 60 percent saying the economic growth of the GBA would exceed China’s average level in the next three years.

The RCEP agreement, which took effect at the beginning of 2022, provides overseas enterprises with more convenience and opportunities to expand their businesses in China, the survey said.

The RCEP covers 15 Asia-Pacific countries, including 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

The survey covers six new markets this year, including South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines. About 3,400 enterprises in 16 markets participated in the survey. The respondents are either currently operating in China or seeking to enter the Chinese market in the near future.

For respondents from RCEP markets, Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province, is their top destination for investment followed by Hong Kong and Shenzhen, the survey said.

The GBA covers nine cities in Guangdong and the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions.

Boasting many geographical advantages and a sizeable market closely linked to many other foreign markets, the GBA is set to become an important hub with strong ties with ASEAN members under the RCEP agreement, said Daniel Chan, head of the Greater Bay Area of HSBC.

“Our survey shows that technological advancement and the large scale of the consumer market in the GBA are major attractions for overseas enterprises. The region will serve as a gateway for the Chinese mainland to open its markets wider and drive further growth of cross-border trade and investment,” Chan said.

Some 31 percent of surveyed enterprises from RCEP member countries aimed to significantly grow their presence in the GBA in the next three years, approximately 10 percent more than those from other countries.

Lee Chee Kong, president of Carlsberg China, said the company’s investment in Guangdong would be continuous and is planned for the long term, as local authorities have pledged to encourage more high-quality foreign investment.

According to Guangdong’s government work report at the annual session of the local legislative meeting, which concluded on Monday, the province will further optimize its foreign trade structure, encourage more foreign investment and develop closer international economic relations.

“The consumer market in the GBA is one of the biggest and most vibrant markets in China, with a large population of young consumers,” Lee said.

Carlsberg China is now building a brewery in Foshan, a city located in the GBA. The brewery is scheduled to open in 2024 and become one of the company’s largest production bases in the country.

The production base in Foshan will be a flagship brewery of Carlsberg in terms of intelligent manufacturing and green production, with investment in the first phase worth about 3 billion yuan ($442.6 million) and a planned production capacity of 500,000 kiloliters.

“Our investment in Guangdong was never meant for the short term. In the future, we will take full advantage of the preferential policies the local government offers to transnationals and pursue high-quality development while meeting consumers’ increasing need for high-quality products,” Lee said.

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