Qingdao summit to boost dialogue and cooperation of multinationals
Liu Chunsheng

Editor's note: Liu Chunsheng is an associate professor at the Beijing-based Central University of Finance and Economics, and deputy dean of Blue Source Capital Research Institute. The article reflects the author's opinions, and not necessarily the views of CGTN. 

The First Qingdao Multinationals Summit focusing on the theme of "Multinational Corporations and China" is being held in the seaside city of Qingdao. The summit is committed to building a high-end platform for leaders of multinational corporations, spreading their voices, sharing their experiences, and promoting dialogue and mutual benefits.  

Multinational corporations have been engines of global economic growth, technology diffusion and deepening globalization during the past decades. They have grown not only within their domestic corporate framework but also by setting up new subsidiaries in host economies and by purchasing subsidiaries through mergers and acquisitions. 

Over the past 40 years, with China's reform and the promotion of an all-round, wide-ranging and multi-level pattern of opening-up, investment of multinational corporations kept booming in China. With advanced technology and abundant capital, multinational corporations gain enormous profits and gradually regard the China as one of the most important parts of their global market. According to the report "Multinationals in China: 40 Years of Investment" released at the summit, from 1978 to 2018, China attracted 2.1 trillion U.S. dollars FDI in real terms, making China one of the world's major hosts for FDI.  

It seems that the story of multinational corporations in China is a classic example of how China and the world can benefit from each other. Multinational corporations have played a huge role in China's economic development and made outstanding contributions to investment, foreign trade, taxation, employment, reform, institutional innovations and other aspects. According to the aforementioned report, foreign-invested enterprises only account for less than 3 percent of China's total enterprises, but it has contributed to almost half of China's foreign trade.  

Procter & Gamble has invested over 1.7 billion U.S. dollars in China and encouraged a great deal of job growth. /VCG Photo

Procter & Gamble has invested over 1.7 billion U.S. dollars in China and encouraged a great deal of job growth. /VCG Photo

At the same time, multinational corporations, together with Chinese manufacturers and service suppliers, have built a close global production network and shared resources, markets and technologies through the global layout of production chain, value chain and supply chain. According to Denis Depoux, senior partner of global consultancy Roland Berger, China has always been the ideal destination for FDI as there is a comprehensive industrial system, highly efficient infrastructure and a domestic market with great potential as well as a well-trained labor force.  

The summit comes at an important juncture where China and the U.S. are still engaging in a tit-for-tat trade war, which is never good news for multinationals to say the least. U.S. multinational corporations have had to adjust their global value chain. At present, the long-term impact of trade frictions between U.S. and China is emerging. The trade volume between the two sides has declined significantly. At the same time, it has disrupted the global industrial layout of multinational corporations and raised their production and operation costs.  

What's more, in an environment of great uncertainty, no one can make a long-term investment plan, which is far worse than the tariff itself. About 60 percent of the U.S. trade deficit to China comes from the sales of foreign-funded enterprises including U.S. companies in China. The high tariffs imposed by the United States against China has also hit American enterprises that produce commodities in China and export to the United States.  

Against this backdrop, the Qingdao summit showcases China's commitment to a new round of high-level opening-up and its determination to achieve mutual benefit and win-win business success through deepening opening-up. Such platforms provide an important exchange and cooperation platform for multinational corporations. It will be conducive for all sides to hear and understand each other’s demands and core concerns, and hopefully these direct dialogue and communication can be one of the steps towards some concrete measures to continue China's efforts in building a sound investment environment.  

While China and U.S. government officials are working their way to reach a more comprehensive deal, Qingdao summit also provides a more casual opportunity for different parties to discuss the business environment optimization, intellectual property protection, and explore the way to safeguard the economic interests of multinational corporations, including those U.S. companies in China. 

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