The intricate relationship between China and the global economy is undergoing rapid changes influenced by various factors. Multinational corporations (MNCs) in China are experiencing a shift from years of expansion to a phase of transformation. Their focus has evolved from technology transfer and international sales networks to integrating core competencies with China’s emerging competitive advantages. The nation not only provides a valuable market but also possesses strong research and development capabilities, supported by a substantial pool of science and engineering graduates at a cost-effective employment rate.
In the post-pandemic era, new trends have reshaped global investment dynamics. US Federal Reserve interest rate hikes have disrupted capital flows, while substantial subsidies for electric vehicles and clean energy initiatives have redirected foreign investment funds. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated corporate digital transformation, spurring increased investment in related areas.
China, amid these changes, continues to open its services sector, strengthen international cooperation through free trade agreements, and closely monitor greenfield investments, which contribute to local production capacity and employment.
Given the shift in global economic and trade rules, with some countries bypassing established mechanisms like the World Trade Organization (WTO) and opting for regional free trade agreements, China faces the challenge of staying competitive. Upgrades to existing agreements focus on digital trade, artificial intelligence, and services trade, areas where China must maintain pace to sustain foreign investor interest.
The rise of intermediate trade has prompted countries to reduce regulatory measures, tariffs, and production barriers, necessitating a business environment with favourable policies to seamlessly integrate industrial, supply, and value chains. MNCs, engaging in production across multiple countries, must consider the business environment when planning their layouts, facing difficulties if significant policy differences exist.
China’s pilot free trade zones, massive market, well-developed infrastructure, and supply and industrial chains position it as a key player in attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) in the years ahead. These advantages stand out when compared to emerging countries like Vietnam, India, and Mexico. As China navigates these complex dynamics, its ability to adapt to evolving global trends will determine its continued appeal to foreign investors.