MNCs plug into China recovery theme

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China Daily, March 6, 2023
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As China's ongoing two sessions — the annual sittings of the nation's top legislature and top political advisory body — reaffirm the economic policy's thrust on steady growth, multinational corporations operating in China said they are optimistic about their long-term business prospects. The world's second-largest economy, their top executives said, appears to be on track for a steady post-COVID-19 economic recovery this year.

MNCs such as US materials science company Corning Inc, in fact, are so sanguine that they are ramping up their local investments, expanding their business lines and chalking up medium- to long-term plans for steady growth.

Corning, for instance, is planning to continuously expand its capacity across its various business lines in the country, in order to support growing local demand.

The US multinational specializes in specialty glass, ceramics, related materials and technologies like advanced optics. Its vice-president, Jeffery Liu, said China has always been a strategic market for Corning, which sees huge growth potential in the Chinese market, given the large population of middle-income groups who reside mostly in urban areas.

"I take a rosy view of China's high-quality and innovation-driven development in the next few years," Liu said. "Looking ahead, our company will execute its announced capital projects and expand employment as it ramps up production and invests in new businesses in the China market."

Liu said the China business now accounts for around one-third of Corning's global sales revenue, making the country the largest overseas market for the firm outside the United States.

In the last four decades, Corning has invested over $9 billion in 23 manufacturing and research facilities in China that boast over 6,000 employees now.

It has been continuously investing in Chongqing, first on a post-processing plant, then on a logistics center, and now on a melting furnace, as well as other facilities for new materials.

Besides the investment in glass melting production lines, Corning is actively expanding in the upstream raw materials industry. It is also expanding investment in Chongqing with Gorilla cover glass and Corning automotive glass, one for consumer electronics and the other for automotive innovations.

Experts attribute such strong commitment to the Chinese market to the country's emphasis on its pro-growth stance, the latest evidence of which is the around 5 percent GDP growth target set for 2023. On Sunday, delivering the annual Government Work Report, Premier Li Keqiang said the nation will focus on intensified and more targeted macroeconomic policies to promote stable economic growth.

China is also giving priority to substantially expanding domestic demand and boosting market confidence, offering rising growth opportunities for global stakeholders such as Corning.

Seeing the huge growth potential in China's ultra-large domestic market, Corning's Liu said he believes the China market will continue to serve as a major growth engine for the company's future development.

China has become the world's second-largest consumer market, boasting a middle-income group of over 400 million people. China's retail sales totaled 43.97 trillion yuan ($6.37 trillion) in 2022, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed.

China remains an important global manufacturing base as well as a key consumer market for products such as TVs, cars and smartphones, and there has been a huge demand for glass in those sectors.

After years of development, Corning is planning to gradually expand its research and development capability in China in the next five to 10 years, in a bid to better cater to the local demand, Liu said.

"We're very bullish about China's long-term prospects. During the past decades, Corning has benefited a lot from China's reforms and opening-up. China is one of the most appealing destinations for foreign investors," he said.

Citing key tasks mapped out by China's 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25), he said China aims to foster high-quality and innovation-driven development in the coming years. And Corning, with its innovative initiative, will play an increasingly important role in supporting China's high-quality development in this period.

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