Manufacturing News

Hubei shrugs off virus, spotlights trade, investment

The epidemic-hit region of Wuhan in Hubei province is going all out to stabilize trade and foreign investment as part of its efforts to contain the economic impact of COVID-19 and accelerate recovery of the area, the governor of the province said.

Wang Xiaodong, governor of the province of Hubei, said during a field survey in Wuhan that the basic trend of the region's long-term economic growth and stability has not changed despite the epidemic's impact on Hubei.

With the central authorities' favorable policies, the province will step up efforts to stabilize trade and foreign investment, further open up, and vigorously promote the development of an export-oriented economy.

"The efforts are being made to provide strong support for stabilizing the basic economic situation and revitalize people's livelihoods and economic development from the epidemic," he said.

On May 14, the Hubei government issued 30 new measures to optimize the province's business environment.

The measures are focused on items like encouraging e-government, simplifying the government's service flow, cutting unnecessary requirements for qualification of enterprises, promoting reform on separating permits from the business license, boosting business environment assessments, and raising the quality and efficiency of real estate registration services.

"The introduction of the measures tackles problems in Hubei's business environment. It raised pragmatic requirements for the government, proposed concrete solving methods, and if effectively implemented, the measures are expected to greatly improve the region's business environment and help attract foreign investment," said Pan Helin, executive director of the Digital Economy Academy of the Zhongnan University of Economics and Law in Hubei.

The efforts made by Hubei also respond to the central authorities' economic focus on "six priorities".

They are to safeguard employment, people's livelihoods, the development of market entities, food and energy security, the stable operation of industrial and supply chains, and the smooth functioning of society, Wang said.

On May 19, United States-based manufacturer Honeywell established its emerging market headquarters in Wuhan. It is also an innovation center in the East Lake High-Tech Development Zone-also known as the Optics Valley of China. The company is the first Global Fortune 500 company to establish its headquarters in Wuhan this year.

The market headquarters mainly deals with intelligent building technologies, performance materials and technological solutions for safety and productivity.

"Working with the Wuhan government, we accelerated the preparation pace, and finally landed the project during the special period," said Zhang Yufeng, president of Honeywell China.

He said that the company is always upbeat on Wuhan, and strongly supports the city's epidemic prevention and control efforts as well as its economic and social development plans.

Honeywell will further increase its investment in Wuhan, deepen cooperation with the city, assist Wuhan in recovering from the novel coronavirus epidemic, and realize a new round of development, Zhang said.

Premier Li Keqiang sent a congratulation letter on the inaugural ceremony of Honeywell's newly established market headquarters.

In the face of the economic downward pressure at home and abroad, China's commitment to deepening reform and opening-up and welcoming overseas enterprises to expand investment and cooperation with China will remain unchanged, the premier said in the letter.

Li pledged continuous efforts to create a market-oriented, law-based and globalized business environment where companies of different ownerships, domestic or foreign, are treated as equals.

Hubei's economic situation is vigorously picking up amid challenges brought by COVID-19.

Data from the Hubei Provincial Bureau of Statistics showed that in April, the growth rate of industrial added value of industrial enterprises above designated size, meaning those with annual revenue of 20 million yuan ($2.8 million) or more, was minus 2.4 percent on a yearly basis, sharply narrowed from that of the first quarter, which was minus 45.8 percent.

Trade volume surged by 11.2 percent year-on-year to 31.9 billion yuan.

Fan Hongbin, chief partner of the Wuhan office of accounting firm Deloitte, said to help the region recover and restore market mechanisms, key national projects and policies should be landed. This would improve the region's business environment and attract investments.

The 30 measures issued by Hubei are practical solutions. When they are actually executed, tens of thousands of enterprises are expected to be attracted to invest and contribute to the region's economic development, Pan said.

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