Global push

Updated: 2016-01-22 08:37

By Chen Yingqun(China Daily Europe)

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Global push

"China's real estate and construction industries have slowed down in the past two years, new residential and commercial projects are seeing sluggish growth, and investment prospects are uncertain," he says.

"Overseas markets, especially in Southeast Asia and South America will be new growth points. Prospects in European and US markets are also good."

Shu's company, which offers interior design and construction services, started its overseas business in 2012 through its partners, big state-owned enterprises operating overseas. The company has about 150 employees and annual revenue of about 300 million yuan ($45.5 million; 41.8 million euros), of which about 20 percent is from overseas.

It used to enjoy about 30 percent annual growth on average, but in the past two years, with slower growth in the construction sector and rising labor and material costs, searching for new opportunities globally has become an attractive option.

"We are planning to set up a company and operate directly overseas, and I want half of the company's revenue to come from overseas by 2017," Shu says.

Global push

His company is typical of Chinese small and medium-sized enterprises that are increasingly going global at a time when the government is accelerating economic restructuring and easing restrictions on overseas investment.

Headline-grabbing mergers and acquisitions by Chinese enterprises of totemic companies in the West suggest an invasion, but it was only in 2014 that China's outbound investment reached $140 billion, for the first time overtaking inbound investment of $120 billion, according to the Ministry of Commerce. President Xi Jinping predicted in 2014 that China's outbound investment will reach $1.25 trillion over the next decade.

This trend is set to accelerate. The 2015 Report on Chinese Enterprise Globalization, published by the Beijing-based Center for China and Globalization, says that in 2014 and the first six months of 2015, the annual number of newly increased outbound investments (686) was about six times the average number (121) from 2008 to 2013.

"We are on the verge of a big wave of Chinese companies going global," says Wu Jianmin, China's former ambassador to France. "In the past, it was mainly big companies that were interested in going global, but now so are smaller and medium-sized companies. Many companies have realized that if they don't look for opportunities globally, they will probably die in China finally."

In 2015, Chinese companies made nonfinancial direct investments of $118 billion in 5,085 companies in 153 countries and regions, a year-on-year increase of 14.7 percent, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

Wang Huiyao, director of the Center for China and Globalization, says in about 63 percent of the cases, Chinese companies' overseas investments are between $100 million and $1 billion.