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Global firms hike spending on R&D

By Zhong Nan | China Daily | Updated: 2017-12-07 08:20

As China shifts its focus to attract more foreign investment in high-end manufacturing, services and green industry to transform its economy, overseas companies are pouring in additional funds to develop research and service-based businesses in China to maintain robust growth.

Many of these opportunities also come from the country's growing demand for consumption-related products and services, diversified market channels created by the Belt and Road Initiative and free trade deals with partner countries, as well as the hunger for more homemade sophisticated industrial products.

Thanks to the government's resolve to attract more foreign direct investment this year, segments newly identified as key to sustained growth-automation,
digitalization, financial and healthcare services, aviation, environmental technologies and renewable energy businesses-are all expected to benefit.

China's key areas for economic reform and industrial upgrading will grow into new opportunities in many German companies' investment plans, said Alexandra Voss, a member of the German Chamber of Commerce's all-China board.

"Consumption-related sectors will remain hot, and sectors that get well with China's new direction of economic growth, including high-tech, services and new energy, will also see more foreign investment," said Voss.

"Due to rising labor costs and weak global market demand, China is veering towards growth reliant on domestic consumption, rather than exports," said Gao Peiyong, director of the Institute of Economics at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Gao said companies from Europe, Japan and the United States have already discovered that it is time to invest more in Chinese research and development, as well as its science and technology and design businesses.

New growth points are expected to present themselves as the economy becomes more sophisticated.

Under government policies issued in January, foreign companies will be encouraged to invest in high-end, smart and green manufacturing; to set up research and development centers; and to strengthen cooperation with domestic peers. They will also be allowed to join national science and technology programs.

US-based Emerson Electric Co opened a new measurement technology center in Beijing on November 14 to serve its automation solutions business in China and across Asia. The facility, representing an investment of $28 million, includes the company's first China solutions center for customers and a newly built and expanded manufacturing plant to meet domestic and Asia-Pacific market demand.

David Farr, chairman and chief executive officer of Emerson, said with this new center, the company will be able to engage in closer collaboration with its customers in China in helping the industry adopt digital transformation technologies, as a growing number of Chinese companies are leveraging the growth potential arising from digitalization.

Siemens AG and Ningbo-based Consinee Group also kicked off their cooperation in a project for the first intelligent factory in China's wool textile industry on Nov 27. Involving a total investment of $50 million, Siemens will help its Chinese partner build 10 pilot intelligent production lines with an annual output of 1,000 metric tons of premium cashmere yarns.

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