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Overseas companies hail expanded opening-up

By XU WEI | China Daily | Updated:Jan 7, 2021

Enterprises benefit from nation far-reaching move

One of the most important decisions made by French software company Dassault Systemes last year was to relocate its Asia-Pacific headquarters to Shanghai.

The company said strong performance in China justified moving its regional base to the municipality from Japan.

The Chinese market accounted for many of Dassault Systemes' larger transactions in Asia last year, spanning the transportation, mobility, high-tech, aerospace, marine and offshore sectors.

The company was given access to China to help with construction of Leishenshan Hospital-the emergency facility built in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province, to respond to COVID-19 in the city.

This access was part of a series of deals the company signed with its Chinese partners, giving full play to its strengths in 3D design and engineering software.

Bernard Charles, CEO of Dassault Systemes, said, "The Chinese government has continued to demonstrate its commitment to further opening-up, which not only promotes the rapid development, transformation and upgrading of China's economy, but also boosts the development potential and offers policy dividends for us."

Buoyed by its strong performance in China and expanded opening-up measures, the company is looking to triple the number of its employees in the country to about 2,000 in the next five to 10 years.

"The determination of the Chinese government to expand opening-up will encourage quality-oriented investment on a larger scale, forming a virtuous cycle of development and driving continued growth. These prospects are greatly appealing to our company," Charles said.

Dassault Systemes is just one of many foreign businesses to benefit from ongoing steps taken by China in the past year to open up its economy.

According to the Ministry of Commerce, the country continued to be a hot destination for foreign investment last year, with such inflows growing by 6.3 percent year-on-year to reach 899.38 billion yuan ($129.9 billion) between January and November.

Meanwhile, the country has continued to reiterate its commitment to a level playing field and to create an enabling environment for foreign companies.

The annual tone-setting Central Economic Work Conference last month stressed the importance of promoting all-around opening-up. It also pledged to continue measures to widen market access, promote fair competition and protect intellectual property rights.

Last year, the country reduced the number of items on its negative list for foreign investment from 40 to 33, having cut this list for three consecutive years.

Tommy Wu, lead China economist at think tank Oxford Economics in the United Kingdom, said, "Opening up of the financial sector was substantial in 2020, particularly now that foreign firms are allowed to hold controlling stakes in ventures or branches in China."

He said the industrial and financial sectors in China could benefit from foreign investment, as this is a direct channel to diffuse technology, along with technical and soft skills such as international business practices coming into the country.

"These will generally help China move up the value-added chain, bolstering homegrown technology and innovation, as well as improving global competitiveness of Chinese businesses. It is also in China's interest to embrace multilateralism, to further integrate and be a key player in the global economy," he said.

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