From trade port to innovation hub, Guangzhou eyes more investment from U.S. companies

Updated 2017-03-16 10:31:02 Xinhua
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Nina Easton, co-chair of Fortune Global Forum and chair of Fortune Most Powerful Women International, speaks at the roadshow for the 2017 Fortune Global Forum held in Washington, the United States, on March 14, 2017. (Xinhua/Yin Bogu)

Undergoing a transformation into an international hub of innovation from a traditional trade port, the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou is seeking out U.S. companies for investment.

“We encourage U.S. multinational companies to invest in Guangzhou, which is a well-known business-friendly city,” Cai Chaolin, vice mayor of Guangzhou, said Tuesday during a roadshow for the 2017 Fortune Global Forum to be held in Guangzhou in early December.

In an address to U.S. officials and business leaders in Washington D.C., Cai introduced Guangzhou's initiatives of developing a technology innovation hub, which is expected to bring new business opportunities for U.S. companies coming to the city.

As part of the efforts to enhance cooperation in technology innovation between Guangzhou and the United States, Cai also announced the set-up of Guangzhou's liaison offices in Boston and Silicon Valley, two famous innovation centers in the Eastern and Western coasts of the United States.

“We want to know what's happening in these innovation centers,” Cai told Xinhua, adding that the two offices would help Guangzhou gather innovation resources and high-end talents around the world so as to establish its own innovation hub.

Nina Easton, co-chair of Fortune Global Forum and chair of Fortune Most Powerful Women International, said at the same event that Guangzhou, China's southern gateway to the world, is the ideal location for the 2017 Fortune Global Forum with the theme of “Openness and Innovation: Shaping the Global Economy” .

“As a center of international trade for many centuries, Guangzhou is both a renowned symbol and a modern manifestation of China's participation in global commerce,” Easton said, noting that the city has become “highly attractive” to multinational companies due to initiatives launched by the municipal government to facilitate investment and trade, its strategic position on the Maritime Silk Road as well as its participation in the free trade zone of Guangdong Province.

“More than half of Fortune Global 500 companies have already made investments or set up operations in Guangzhou, with the potential to continue expansion,” Easton said.

Henry Levine, senior advisor at leading U.S. consulting firm Albright Stonebridge Group, said he was very impressed by the central role of South China in general, Guangzhou in particular, has played as a leader in openness, innovation, and creating a dynamic economy over the past 30 years.

Citing a recent business survey conducted by the American Chamber of Commerce in South China, Levine, who used to work at the U.S. Department of Commerce, said 80 percent of U.S. companies regarded the business climate in the region as “good” or “very good,” and 60 percent of them chose to make their headquarters in Guangzhou.

As the first witness to the start of Sino-U.S. trade, Guangzhou also has important implications for today's China-U.S. trade relations.

In 1784, a merchant vessel named the Empress of China set off from New York Harbor, loaded with American Ginseng, leather and cotton, arrived in Guangzhou after a six-month journey, and took home tea, chinaware and silk, opening a brand new chapter in China-U.S. bilateral trade. Today, Guangzhou has trade relations with about 200 countries in the world.

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