Manufacturing investments open door to US market, experts say

Updated: 2013-06-02 02:23

By Bao Chang (China Daily)

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China should encourage more of its enterprises to invest in manufacturing in Caribbean countries to promote bilateral economic and trade relations, experts have suggested.

"Manufacturing is a promising investment prospect in the Caribbean region because if Chinese companies transfer their production base to the region, they will be closer to major target markets, including the United States," said Wang Haifeng, a researcher at the Institute for International Economic Research under the National Development and Reform Commission.

"More private companies should be encouraged to invest there in such sectors as textiles, light manufacturing and household appliances," Wang said.

The Caribbean region is seen as a gateway for foreign investors to tap into the US market because of its proximity to North America. In recent years, Chinese companies have been accelerating their investments in the region and promoting trade ties.

One of the biggest projects is the Baha Mar resort in the Bahamas, being built by China State Construction Engineering Corp, China's largest construction company.

CSCEC, the world's largest construction contractor by market value, signed a $1.9 billion deal with Baha Mar Resorts Inc in the Bahamas in 2010. It also acquired a 2.75 percent stake in the resort by investing $99 million to the project.

The project, occupying 405 hectares and including a beach resort, golf course, conference rooms, swimming pool and 3,000 guest rooms, is likely to open in the second half of 2014. It will either directly or indirectly provide 8,000 jobs and bring $1.1 billion in consumer spending and direct tax revenues to Bahamas.

"Apart from expanding its trade and investment relations with traditional trading partners, China has started to intensify its efforts to promote economic and trade ties with emerging and small economies and trading partners," Wang said.

"China is becoming more open in fostering economic cooperation with different countries around the world."

"Although the dynamic industries in the Caribbean region are mainly in the resort and tourism sectors, Chinese companies should first engage and invest in manufacturing when they enter the market," Wang said, as the process of entering a new market should develop from manufacturing to the service industry.