HK firms rush to claim share of city's boom
Foreign investment continued to surge in Ningbo last year. Accumulated foreign investment reached US$5.02 billion, up 24 per cent from 2010. The city's gross domestic product rose 10 per cent to hit 601 billion yuan (HK$738 billion).
While Ningbo companies produce everything from car parts to dolls, investment and growth centred on the textile, plastics machinery, stationery and oil industries. The textile industry churns out 1.5 billion pieces per year, while the city's stationery industry accounts for one-third of the mainland's exports.
Heavy industry is dominated by oil refineries and steel production centres that are boosted by deep-water ports and infrastructure ties to multiple catchment areas.
In January, Ningbo announced 22 foreign investment projects, with a collective investment in excess of US$1.2 billion. In the same month, Shanghai Volkswagen inaugurated a project in Ningbo, reportedly the first international car project in the city. Investment is helped by Ningbo's ability to draw talent and keep employees happy. In fact, Ningbo was the best city in China in a workplace happiness index, according to a recent survey by the Peking University Centre of Social Survey Research and human resources company Zhaopin.com.
At least 35 of the world's top 500 companies have operations in Ningbo, including multinationals such as Dupont, Mitsubishi and Wal-Mart. Investment by these top-tier multinationals had reached US$7.97 billion as of January.
Hong Kong firms account for 64.5 per cent of the region's US$2.8 billion in utilised investments last year. Leading Hong Kong investors include China Merchants Holdings, which has a major investment in Ningbo Port, and Zhongce Investment, which is a partner in Ningbo Asia Pulp and Paper. Lyondell China Holdings has invested in the chemical industry through Ningbo Zhenhai Refining and Lyondell Chemical.
Ningbo's foreign investment calendar is dominated by the Zhejiang Investment and Trade Symposium, which is held every year on June 8.
The event has witnessed the announcement of more than 3,000 projects worth US$31.45 billion in contractual foreign investment since its inception in 1999.