Chinese overseas investment from Guangzhou Development District reached about $454 million last year, a remarkable increase of 199.8 percent year-on-year, an official in the capital of South China's Guangdong province said.
As one of China's first national economic and technological development zones, the district saw 128 local companies invest a total of $1.12 billion overseas from 2003 to 2016, in industries such as biological medicine, fine chemical engineering and mechanical equipment, said Zheng Qi, deputy director of the economic development board of the district.
One local company, Comba Telecoms Systems Holdings, purchased Enterprise of Telecommunications Lao (ETL), the only state-owned telecoms operator in Laos, last year for $91.8 million. Comba plans to upgrade ETL's 2G and 3G networks and develop a 4G network by 2018 to serve 400,000 clients, according to Li Yuwen, vice-president of Comba.
Empolyees of Comba Telecoms Systems Holdings Ltd take a photo with the management team in front of the building of the State-owned telecoms operator Enterprise of Telecommunications Lao. [Photos Provided to China Daily]
Customers from the banks of Russia visit GRG Banking Equipment Co Ltd in March. [Photos Provided to China Daily]
ETL's network has not been renewed for some time due to lack of capital input. The company is looking for Chinese companies with technology and capital, Li said.
"We expect to attract the 1 million Chinese customers living in Laos and bring other domestic IT services through the telecoms channel such as WeChat to enrich online content there," she said. "It may take seven to 10 years to make a profit, but first we need to enlarge the customer market."
Li said the Guangzhou government helped the company to secure a loan from national banks and to learn more about policies in other countries by holding international negotiation fairs.
Guangzhou Development District organized a lecture for 73 company representatives about tax policy and risk control when going global, according to Zheng.
The government also visited companies that had made foreign investments or wanted to do international business to learn about their current situations and product demand.
The district's investment in Hong Kong also rose greatly year-on-year, Zheng said.
GRG Banking Equipment Co Ltd, which focuses on research into and production of ATMs and CSRs, established a branch in Hong Kong last year to expand its international trade.
By 2016 its products could be seen at 1,200 banks in more than 80 countries and regions.
Ye Ziyu, general manager of the company, said its self-made machine parts can maintain eight to 10 years of service life.
Its lower prices and good service have won it strong markets in Turkey and Cuba, which are normally dominated by European producers.
"We insisted on a deeper localization of overseas branches with a real concern for the company's contribution to the local society, by exchanges in technology and improvement of employment," Ye said.
"Trade must bring benefits to people. The Belt and Road is not only about export or infrastructural construction, but for companies to settle there and be accepted."
KingMed Diagnostics, established in 1994 in Guangzhou as a third-party medical laboratory group, cooperated with Hong Kong Science Park last year to establish a biological medical industrial cluster and a platform for industry-university-research cooperation with major local higher educational institutes such as the University of Hong Kong.
The two are also working on the opening of a green channel for biological samples between Hong Kong and Guangzhou.
Liang Yaoming, chairman of KingMed Diagnostics, said: "The company will focus on high-end medical examination services, including genome and proteome examination, with an emphasis on cooperation with Hong Kong to reach Southeast Asia and the world through the Belt and Road."
The district also attracted United States companies to invest, including Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Jabil Group and Wm Wrigley Jr with total investments of $4 billion.
Zheng Qi from the Guangzhou Development District said the government set aside 300 million yuan ($43.4 million) last year for the introduction and cultivation of experts, compared with 100 million yuan in 2015.
A fund for innovation and entrepreneurship for leading professionals has reached 45.8 million yuan, which will be used to target advanced manufacturing, services, high technology and headquarters economy industries, said Zheng.
By 2016, 12 working stations had been set up in overseas areas, including the US and Japan, to attract more talents to the district. Now the district has more than 3,000 overseas returnees and about 1,000 startups, Zheng added.
Leyard Group, with Guangzhou Leafun Culture Science and Technology as its second-largest shareholder, purchased all the common shares of Planar, a listed US electric display producer, in 2015 at $6.58 per share.
The company, which designed the visual images of the Earth, a bowl and Tai-chi for the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, is focusing on providing sound and light technological services for public cultural facilities and stage performances.
Gerry Perkel, president of Planar, said the acquisition would bring new opportunities for the shareholders, employees and customers.
By Chen Meiling in Guangzhou (China Daily)