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Overseas retailers rushing in
2005-09-07 00:00

Overseas retailers have been "very active" this year after China abolished restrictions in the sector according to commitments to the WTO (World Trade Organization), a senior government official said yesterday.

In the first half of this year, the Ministry of Commerce approved 245 overseas-invested commercial enterprises, six times the number of companies approved last year.

There were 314 overseas-invested commercial enterprises in China at the end of last year, with 3,997 outlets and 9.2 million square metres of business area.

However, foreign-invested firms account for only 3 per cent of the total revenues in the sector.

The cities with the most overseas capital are Shanghai (12.9 per cent), Beijing (8.1 per cent), Xiamen (7.9 per cent), Dalian (7.8 per cent) and Qingdao (7.6 per cent).

China's retail sector has grown 34 times since 1978, said Huang Hai, assistant minister of commerce, adding that there were 55,000 large-scale retail outlets throughout the country at the end of last year, up by 18 per cent year-on-year.

Huang was speaking at opening of the 12th Asian Retailers Convention & Exhibition (ARCE) in Beijing.

Last year's revenues increased by 30.2 per cent year-on-year, hitting 5.4 trillion yuan (US$665.84 billion). The figure is expected to exceed 6 trillion yuan (US$739.83 billion) this year.

Huang said China expects to maintain an annual growth rate of 11 per cent in the coming few years; and forecast that revenues will reach 10 trillion yuan (US$1.23 trillion) by 2010.

He said that there will be more legislation to improve the investment environment for overseas capital.

"We will also complete the planning of retail networks in cities to provide for healthy competition," Huang added.

The government will push forward with the restructuring of domestic retail enterprises to strengthen their core competence, and encourage successful ones to go abroad, he said.

The convention, with the theme "Innovation and Co-operation" has attracted 1,500 overseas delegates and 2,500 domestic enterprises.

Dozens of experts, retail managers, scholars and government officials will make presentations on issues like developing strategies, new ideas in retail management, use of advanced and high technology and strategic co-operation between retailers and suppliers.

A retail exhibition will also be held as part of the event. Retailers, suppliers, financial institutions, IT firms and other enterprises will demonstrate their products, services and solutions at the 35,000-square-metre exhibition area.

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