Interview Excerpts| AmCham Southwest Chairman attended programme “New Tianfu Huiketing”
At the invitation of Chengdu Investment and Promotion Bureau, Benjamin Wang, Chairman of AmCham Southwest China, attended CDTV-1 programme “New Tianfu Huiketing” with Li Changwen, Party Secretary and director of Chengdu Investment and Promotion Bureau, and Shinji Kito, General Manager of Kobelco Construction Machinery (China) on March 20th. They shared their opinions in opportunities and challenges met by companies in the COVID-19 outbreak. Besides, they also read into the supportive policies from Chengdu Municipal Government, including optimizing investment environment and making greater effort in attracting foreign investment.
Following dialogues in regard to American enterprises in Southwest China are excerpted from the programme.
Please watch when connected to WiFi
Source：Shenniao News-CDTV-1 “New Tianfu Huiketing“
Host: Mr. Benjamin Wang, what is the news of American enterprises in Chengdu during the COVID-19 outbreak?Benjamin Wang: A report we did on how the COVID-19 has influenced American companies in China including Chengdu and other southwest regions shows that situations of southwestern companies are quiet optimistic. It is based on supports from government including assisting with their preparations of returning to work.
Host: In terms of American companies in Chengdu, how do they feel about working in “Cloud Conference” operating mode?Benjamin Wang: We are continually interacting with American companies through con-call and video conference. Last night I communicated with CEOs from 500 Fortune company to ask for information. Time-targeted actions are demanded during critical period. For attracting investment, even during the COVID-19 outbreak, business exchanges should not be suspended. For those who are active, this is the best opportunity. What Chengdu has done in this aspect is indeed encouraging. American companies always take Chengdu as an investment priority. China Business Report by AmCham Southwest and AmCham Shanghai shows that, since 2008, Chengdu has been the priority of investment among second-tier cities. Why so many companies choose Chengdu? Five years ago, because of Great Western Development Strategy, labor costs in Chengdu are lower than coastal regions. Besides, we have enriched manpower reservation within 5 years based on the economic development and a huge market. Since Chengdu became “Intellectual Property (IP) Model City”, the government has strengthened the IP protection. Owning to the greatest change, many American companies especially those from IT industry and some leading companies of certain industries will choose Chengdu to establish their innovation and R&D centers.
Host: For foreign companies, how can they feel about the guarantee on returning to work from Chengdu Investment and Promotion Bureau?Benjamin Wang: Actually, we have send questionnaires on problems the American companies faced with and files of governmental measures to the WeChat group created by Investment and Promotion Bureau, in which are people from business associations, chambers and American companies so that everyone can learn the information timely. Besides, I want to mention an example about the Health QR Code which did not concern foreigners initially. Because it requires to fill in ID number only, most Americans said it was inconvenient. We gave feedback to Investment and Promotion Bureau and it gave feedback to municipal party committee and municipal government timely. After that, the problem and other related problems were resolved timely as well.
Host: The COVID-19 is a global issue we should confront together. We just talked impacts on economy and investment promotion combined with some local practices. What about the external views?Benjamin Wang: Every year we launch business reports and questionnaires focusing on American companies in China. A questionnaire before the COVID-19 showed 80% American enterprises have no plan to transform their supply chain, production capacity and so on to Southeast Asia, Mexico or return to America in the coming five years. Another questionnaire during the COVID-19 outbreak showed that proportion is up to 83% which proved the measures and policies launched in 2019, such as “Foreign Investment Law” and “Regulations on Optimizing Business Environment”, improved American companies’ confidences. We have always elaborated two advantages Chengdu holds, the rich manpower reservation and efficient government services. AmCham Southwest China is keeping close contact with Investment and Promotion Bureau. We can give feedbacks of members’ problems to Investment and Promotion Bureau directly, including our irregular join of Mayor Forum which can help members give feedback to relative departments directly and solve problems efficiently. That inspires our members. Especially, early of last year, we attended the mobilization meeting to create business environment organized by Municipal Party Secretary Mr Fan. When we delivered the information to our members, they were excited and showed that they would increase investment. In our White Paper as well as European Chamber’s Position Paper, we talked about issues of international schools and hospitals for five years. As a response, Chengdu established a lot of international schools and hospitals under the guidance of government. Although it seems subtle, it is indeed an important assessment that foreign companies will take into consideration. Education facilities for foreign children, international hospitals and etc. may be the determining factors of foreign companies locating in Chengdu. Creating international investment environment in Chengdu, from the secretary to departments, leaves a deep impression on us.
The programme delivers many business signals to us and is reported by Chengdu Daily as well as reproduced by several media, wining a comprehensive response.