Shandong continues to attract investment, thanks to its ever-improving links with Fortune 500 companies
China's eastern coastal province of Shandong has achieved major progress in absorbing foreign investments in recent years, especially from Fortune Global 500 companies, thanks to both its strengthened cooperation with foreign multinationals and efforts to improve the local business environment.
In 2016, Shandong signed agreements with 62 Fortune Global 500 companies from 18 countries and regions, including Germany, the United States and Japan, for a total of 128 investment projects. Overall investment in these projects has reached $16.1 billion.
The projects cover 28 industry sectors, including advanced manufacturing, emerging industries and modern agriculture. Of these projects, 63 already had full funding in place when they were agreed upon, with total contracts worth 10.34 billion yuan ($1.5 billion).
One of the reasons for Shandong's success in attracting foreign investment is its strengthened strategic cooperation with some of the world's leading multinational corporations.
The provincial government and the State Council Development Research Center held a "Shandong Night" promotion during the 2016 China Development Forum in Beijing last March, attracting 58 global chairmen and CEOs from companies on the global top-500 list.
Local government officials and representatives of key Shandong enterprises that have overseas operations met these entrepreneurs and other industrial specialists to discuss future cooperation.
In June, as a follow-up to the promotional event, the provincial government organized inspection tours of Jinan, Qingdao, Weifang and Yantai for representatives from 39 Fortune Global 500 companies and industry leaders. As a result, agreements were reached for six new projects to settle in the province.
Statistics from the Shandong Department of Commerce show that the province had given approval for more than 200 Fortune Global 500 companies to locate projects in the province as of the end of 2016. Of them, many companies, including French electricity group EDF, the US' General Motors and Italy's Pirelli established or invested in more than one project.
About two-thirds of all projects are located in the cities of Qingdao, Yantai and Jinan. Yu Dong, head of the Yantai bureau of commerce, said 99 Fortune Global 500 companies had invested in the city through 144 projects as of the end of last year. The projects covered the communications, automobile, shipbuilding and aviation sectors.
"In 2016, Yantai gained 12 newly approved projects invested in by Fortune Global 500 companies. Five companies, including China State Construction Engineering Corp and China Datang Corp, invested in the city for the first time," Yu added.
Shandong witnessed average annual growth of 12.1 percent in foreign capital utilization during the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15) period, said She Chunming, director of the Department of Commerce of Shandong.
Cooperation with Fortune Global 500 companies has not only boosted the province's capital flow, but also brought benefits to local companies in terms of technology and management systems.
In 2009, China National Heavy Duty Truck Group, also known as Sinotruk, established a long-term partnership with German truck maker MAN, from which the Shandong-based company obtained a range of advanced technologies and applied them to the process of producing light trucks, special vehicles and buses.
Sinotruk exported 25,000 complete vehicles in 2016, making it the largest exporter of heavy trucks in China for the 12th consecutive year.
"More importantly, we have also gained a better understanding of the standards and quality management that MAN is proud of," said Yun Qingtian, Sinotruk's general quality engineer.
In a bid to attract more high-quality foreign talent, the provincial government said that Shandong will continue to deepen mutually beneficial cooperation with Fortune Global 500 companies in the coming years. It will also build more international schools, hospitals and communities, as well as cultural and sports facilities, to provide expats with a better residential and working environment.