Light industry sees reforms

Light industry is an important sector for China's growth. Guangdong is at the heart of this expanding industry.

THE Guangzhou Trade Fair is an appropriate showcase for China's light industry, with a large proportion of such work taking place in Guangdong province.

Multi-national corporations such as IBM have chosen the province for joint ventures.

Local companies, with a large home market, such as bicycle makers, are also thriving in the region.

Hongkong accounts for 62 per cent of all direct foreign investments in China, most of which are in Guangdong province.

These ventures turn out a steady supply of everything from television sets and radios to toys and watch components.

Electrical appliances and electronics valued at US$5.13 billion were exported by China last year, an increase of 21.6 per cent over 1991.

In the same year, exports of machinery accounted for US$2.9 billion - up by 46.3 per cent over the previous year.

Between them, they accounted for more than 10 per cent of China's exports in 1992.

In the past, both the textile and light industry sectors have encountered the problem of substantial amounts of capital being tied up in finished products which were slow moving or hard to sell.

To help counter this, managers have been advised to pay more attention to production planning.

The State Planning Commission is encouraging reform in this field by giving companies more freedom to plan, unhindered by central control.

It is commonly recognised that the province is well ahead of Beijing's economic ideas, and it often ignores central government directions.

Beijing turns a blind eye, accepting that pressure on Guangdong to comply would simply reduce the taxes from the province and cut off much of the foreign exchange which is still urgently needed.

Although emphasis at the Guangzhou Trade Fair is on exports, Chinese delegations will be keen to discuss imports of items that are important for modernisation.

The leading products included textile machinery, testing equipment, and integrated circuit and telecommunications equipment.

Economic growth of nearly 13 per cent has created opportunities for foreign firms exporting to China, and continuing rapid growth during the first two months of the year bode well for exporters attending the spring fair.