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China outbound investment surge reinforces growth confidence

Updated: 2015-11-17 15:34

China's overseas nonfinancial investment during the first 10 months of 2015 surged 16.3 percent year on year, hailed by many as a stabilizer of world economic growth.

The mainland made around 589.2 billion yuan ($95.21 billion) in outbound direct investment (ODI) during the period, covering 5,553 companies across 152 countries and regions, data released by the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) showed on Monday.

ODI projects covered a wide range of fields including transportation, residential construction, electric power engineering, telecommunication and petrochemical industries.

Belt & road initiative

"The China-proposed 'Belt and Road' initiative, which is designed to improve transnational connections via transportation networks, contributed a lot to the ODI increase, showing China's efforts to power global economic growth," said Zhang Shuyu, a researcher with the University of International Business and Economics.

In the first 10 months, ODI in 49 nations along the Belt and Road totaled $13.17 billion, up 36.7 percent year on year. Top investment destinations were Singapore, Kazakhstan, Laos, Indonesia and Russia.

Meanwhile, new foreign-contracted projects in 60 countries along the route rose to $64.55 billion, up 21.6 percent from last year, accounting for 43.3 percent of China's overseas projects.

The distribution of surplus industrial equipment to countries in need, waning domestic profits fueling a desire to expand overseas, and the slashing of red tape have combined to make China the world's top capital exporter, Jiang Wenbin, deputy head of the MOC department of outward investment and economic cooperation, said.

China became a net-capital exporter for the first time last year, when ODI surpassed foreign direct investment (FDI). ODI grew 14.1 percent in 2014, eclipsing the 1.7-percent growth recorded for FDI.

Growing confidence

"The ODI data provides fresh evidence that President Xi Jinping's remarks are not baseless," said Zhang, referring to comments by the president on Sunday that China had the confidence and capability to maintain medium-high growth, transmitting "Chinese confidence" to the world.

When addressing the G20 summit in Antalya, southwest Turkey, Xi said China's confidence comes from its determination and commitment to press ahead with reform and build an open economic system.

China's 13th Five-year Plan (2016-2020) has set the target of maintaining medium-high growth. While no official targets have been released, Xi said previously that annual growth of 6.5 percent would be required for China to achieve the target of doubling 2010 GDP and per capita income of both urban and rural residents by 2020, and complete the building of a moderately prosperous society.

China is still a major world economic powerhouse given the economy contributes 30 percent to world growth despite growth slowing to 6.9 percent year-on-year in the first three quarters.

"China's growth potential is huge in sectors including consumption and green industries," said Zhang, citing the substantial number of online transactions on Singles' Day, the Nov 11 equivalent of the American Cyber Monday.

Alibaba's Tmall online marketplace on Thursday reported Singles Day sales totaling 91.2 billion yuan, a 60-percent rise from last year. Singles Day has become the world's biggest annual online shopping day -- nearly five times larger than Cyber Monday.

"This shows that the world's second largest economy is successfully tapping into the potential of domestic consumption," said Zhang.

China's online sales surged by 34.6 percent year on year in October this year to 2.95 trillion yuan, while retail sales of consumer goods grew 11 percent from the same period last year to 2.83 trillion yuan, the record high year-on-year rise of 2015.

"Looking ahead, green growth, as one of five key developments concepts in the 13th Five-year Plan, will spur pro-growth technological innovation in sectors ranging from electricity generation, steel production, construction materials and beyond," said Zhang.

The environmental protection industry has grown by around 20 percent each year from 2011 to 2015, with more than $500 billion injected into the sector during that period. A further 2 trillion yuan is expected to flood in each year during 2016-2020 period.

"China's foreign exchange reserves and industrial upgrading make domestic and overseas investment both viable and necessary," said Zhang, adding that financial reforms will offer more opportunities to foreign entities to enjoy China's growth.



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