Zhejiang province became a hot spot for foreign investment in the first half of 2019 because of steady upgrades in the business environment, government officials and industry experts said.
The department of commerce in Zhejiang province said the area has become a popular destination for foreign investors and the growth of its foreign direct investment has outpaced other coastal provinces in the first six months of the year.
It said its total FDI reached $6.95 billion, up 4.8 percent year-on-year, 1.3 percentage points higher than the national average. The FDI accounted for 9.8 percent of the total FDI nationwide.
"To optimize the business environment is to raise our competitiveness," Zhu Congjiu, vice-governor of Zhejiang, said.
He added the province will look further for ways to reduce taxes and costs for companies, optimize the administrative process and better comply with the Foreign Investment Law.
Some 10 companies from the Fortune 500 have entered in Zhejiang during the period, bringing in investment in fields such as high-tech industries.
Cai Li, an official with the provincial department of commerce, said the stable level of Zhejiang's FDI was hard-earned given the backdrop of the complicated trade environment.
Cai said investment from Europe, the United States and Japan has maintained sustainable growth. Investment from Europe and the US saw yearly growth of 100.3 percent and 109.4 respectively during the first half of the year.
Zhu said foreign companies have brought not only investment but also technology into Zhejiang since the first foreign company settled in the province in 1980, contributing a lot to its social-economic development. It is one reason why the province has put a lot of efforts into building a world-class business environment for foreign firms.
Companies and experts said optimizing the business environment is a key factor behind the growth of foreign investment in Zhejiang.
"In the past, if a foreign company wanted to invest, it needed to go through many departments to gain its certificate, which can take months," said Zhang Jin, vice-president of Mary Kay (China), a US cosmetic brand that has settled in Hangzhou, Zhejiang's capital.
According to the Foreign Investment Law, which will come into effect next year, as long as the field is not listed in the negative list, the foreign companies will be treated the same way as domestic firms, which will largely reduce the time and financial cost to get started in the province, Zhang said.
Song Shanhong, senior project manager of Chevron (China) Chemicals Co Ltd, said the company has started to build a new plant in Ningbo for lubricants, and it only took 66 days from application to the start of construction.
Lan Jian, director of the Zhejiang Academy of Commerce, said the Foreign Investment Law will have a significant impact on many other areas of Zhejiang's development.
"Zhejiang needs more high-quality foreign investment to reach a higher level of opening up and industrial upgrading," he said.