Visa-free pol­icy more fuel for soar­ing Chengdu

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSSAMERICA - By ZHANG ZHAO

As in­ter­na­tional in­vestors in­crease in Chengdu, the 72-hour visa-free pol­icy that started last Septem­ber has re­ceived a hearty wel­come from busi­ness­men who need to con­ve­niently tend to their in­ter­ests.

Chengdu is the fourth city in China, and the first in the western re­gion, to of­fer visafree stays fol­low­ing Bei­jing, Shang­hai and Guangzhou.

The pol­icy al­lows cit­i­zens of 51 coun­tries who have a flight tick­ets to a third coun­try to spend three days in the city.

Even amid a stag­nant global econ­omy and slow­ing do­mes­tic growth, Chengdu’s GDP grew from 390 bil­lion yuan ($62.7 bil­lion) in 2009 to more than 900 bil­lion yuan last year, some 8 per­cent of the to­tal in the en­tire West China re­gion.

By the end of last year, 252 For­tune 500 com­pa­nies had of­fices in Chengdu.

Andy Ser­wer, man­ag­ing edi­tor of the For­tune mag­a­zine, said the city is “a dy­namic mag­net for multi­na­tional com­pa­nies”.

Xue Lian, CEO of the Amer­i­can Cham­ber of Com­merce in South­west China cer­tainly agrees.

“The fast growth rat e , the good in­vest­ment cli­mate and strong mar­ket de­mand make Chengdu a ris­ing ‘tier-one’ city,” said Xue.

She told China Daily that the num­ber of the cham­ber’s mem­bers has in­creased 10-fold to more than 300 in less than 10 years with businesses rep­re­sented ex­pand­ing from man­u­fac­tur­ing into a range of sec­tors in­clud­ing IT, fi­nance and con­sul­ta­tion.

She said that the AmCham South­west is now the largest and most in­flu­en­tial over­seas cham­ber of com­merce in the re­gion, with the largest share of for­eign com­pa­nies in Chengdu from the United States.

Ac­cord­ing to the lat­est China Busi­ness Re­port from the Amer­i­can Cham­ber of Com­merce in Shang­hai — the largest US cham­ber of com­merce in the Asia-Pa­cific re­gion — Chengdu is the now the most pre­ferred Chi­nese city for in­vest­ment by US com­pa­nies.

Syed Mo­hamad Fairus Shaik Ismail, di­rec­tor of the Mal aysia Ex­ter­nal Trade De­vel­op­ment Corp’s Chengdu of­fice, is also “op­ti­mistic about the cur­rent in­vest­ment en­vi­ron­ment in the city”.

He said the city is up­grad­ing its “hard­ware” and “soft­ware” in in­fra­struc­ture, trans­porta­tion, ser­vices and talent pool.

One of the ma­jor Malaysian in­vest­ments in Chengdu is Hong Leong Bank, which has a 20 per­cent eq­uity share in the Bank of Chengdu, he noted. Last year the Chengdu bank re­mained a key con­trib­u­tor to the Hong Leong Bank’s profit, with its con­tri­bu­tion grow­ing by 21.7 per­cent.

“Hong Leong Bank has in­creased its in­vest­ment in Bank of Chengdu in re­cent years to sup­port growth in new businesses as well as new mar­kets,” said Syed.

The 72-hour visa-free pol­icy will pro­mote both busi­ness and tourism, said Xue Lian. “As many US com­pa­nies, es­pe­cially smaller ones, are con­sid­er­ing es­tab­lish­ing their re­gional head­quar­ters in Chengdu, the new pol­icy will bring great con­ve­nience to for­eign busi­ness­peo­ple.”

Al­though the pol­icy does not in­clude pas­sen­gers from Malaysia, Syed said he be­lieves more in­ter­na­tional pas­sen­gers will pre­fer Chengdu to be their tran­sit city when plan­ning a long­haul jour­ney.

“In­ter­na­tional pas­sen­gers who tran­sit via Shuan­gliu In­ter­na­tional Air­port will take this op­por­tu­nity to bet­ter ex­pe­ri­ence the city’s de­vel­op­ment and the warm hos­pi­tal­ity of lo­cal people,” he said.

In 2013, 155 mil­lion tourists vis­ited the city, an in­crease of 27.7 per­cent from the pre­vi­ous year. Tourism rev­enue reached 133 bil­lion yuan.

This year, the govern­ment of Chengdu projects tourism rev­enue will reach 166.3 bil­lion yuan as 186 mil­lion tourists visit the city, said lo­cal of­fi­cials.

WANG XIWEI / FOR CHINA DAILY

Dell an­nounced the open­ing of its new global op­er­a­tions base in Chengdu on June 6, 2013 as the For­tune Global Fo­rum was held in the city.

XIE MINGGANG / FOR CHINA DAILY

Siemens Elec­tronic Works Chengdu started op­er­at­ing in Septem­ber in the cap­i­tal of Sichuan prov­ince, the com­pany’s first over­seas dig­i­tal fac­tory.

SONG CHENG / CHINA DAILY

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