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High-end talent needed to enhance business ventures overseas

Updated: 2014-03-07 07:20
By Wu Jiao and Zhang Yunbi ( China Daily)

Chinese enterprises "desperately need" a large number of business and managerial talents for realizing their "Going Global" strategies, Wan Jifei, chairman of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, said on Thursday.

And cultivation of high-end, interdisciplinary managerial talents requires a stronger boost from both the government and businesses, Wan, also a senior political adviser, told China Daily on the sidelines of the ongoing annual two sessions.

Wan, a member of the Standing Committee of the CPPCC National Committee, made the remarks at a time when a growing number of Chinese business owners are faced with looming challenges as they are tapping into overseas markets.

The topic has become a hot issue as lawmakers and political advisers gather in Beijing.

In the Government Work Report delivered to the top legislative body on Wednesday, Premier Li Keqiang underlined the necessity of lifting the competence of Chinese business investing abroad.

As the head of China's leading agency for economic exchanges and cooperation with overseas countries, Wan said the top challenges that have slowed Chinese firms abroad are the lack of qualified business and managerial employees, stumbling blocks in legal affairs and difficult access to visas.

Last year, Chinese investors conducted direct investment in 156 countries or regions worldwide, with 5,090 enterprises abroad, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

"Although the businesses expanding overseas enjoy a considerable number of projects and fast-paced development, the number and the quality of managerial employees are still lagging behind their demands," Wan said.

The country's total investment in overseas non-financial sectors increased 16.8 percent year-on-year to $90.17 billion last year. The amount of the country's overseas investment is expected to outnumber its foreign direct investment inflow in 2015 or 2016.

In Wan's view, a daunting shortage remains among the talents who are "familiar with the changing market, local laws and regulations as well as outbound financial market circumstances" as our companies are entering the global market quite late and lack talent reserves and experience.

One solution is to strengthen the training of interdisciplinary talents that are intended for the "Going Global" strategy, he said.

Wan also suggested that business owners should also get well prepared in outbound regulations, international practices and common rules, as well as cultural integration to avoid legal and cultural risks.

Only by doing so, "they may overcome difficulties posed by their inexperience in the business", he said.

On the visa front, Chinese enterprises have also met challenges because some nations have imposed high thresholds on their working visa applications to prioritize domestic employment.

Wan noted that while he has frequently reconciled with relevant foreign officials to eliminate stumbling blocks in specific visa cases, the problem will be there in the long term and requires joint efforts by the government and the business circles.

In another development, as private enterprises in China are gathering momentum in the "Going Global" initiative, providing them support will be a key task for the council, according to Wan.

Last year, private firms for the first time took in more than half of China's overall outbound direct investment.

Figures also show that the Chinese private businesses account for 76 percent of the country's direct investment in the United States, covering 90 percent of the relevant projects.

When investing abroad, "a flexible paradigm of operating and managing as well as a sensitive and quick response to market signals" are among the strengths of the Chinese private companies, especially in those projects located in remote areas, Wan said.

But private businesses are also worried about a range of bottlenecks in terms of capital strengths and risk-resistance capacity, including their inferiority in financing, information gathering and talent reserves, he said.

Helping the companies with their "Going Global" strategies is an important ongoing mission of Wan's council.

The organization will "strengthen support and service" for facilitating Chinese private businesses' plans to tap into overseas markets, Wan said.

Contact the writer at wujiao@chinadaily.com.cn

(China Daily 03/07/2014 page5)