[photopress:industrial_zones_heifei_1.jpg,full,alignright]The past 30 years of China’s reforms and opening up that began in 1978 stoked the economies in a number of the nation’s coastal regions, including Guangdong, Zhejiang and Shanghai.
But as costs of land and labor rise – and electricity supplies fall short of demand – those economic heavyweights are giving way to once-obscure inland provinces in central China that are springing up as the next destination of investment.
Anhui, traditionally an agricultural province in China’s central region, is among the new trendsetters. And where the new companies settle so Economic Zones tend to be set up.
In the first three quarters of 2007, six central provinces, including Anhui, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangxi and Shanxi attracted $11.5 billion in foreign investment, a 46.2% increase over the same period the year previous and 24.3% of the national total.
Anhui ranked first in annual growth at 190%, 178% higher than the national average, and fifth place among the six by capital volume of $1.94 billion.
The province has attracted investment from both home and abroad, including big international names like ABB, Unilever and Hitachi. Often to Hefei Economic and Technology Development Area.
In 2007 alone, 499 new foreign enterprises registered in the province’s cities of Hefei, seen in our illustration, Wuhu, Ma’anshan and Bengbu.
The capital Hefei, a six-hour bus ride west from Shanghai, is now home to more than 2,000 foreign enterprises, including 18 Fortune 500 companies. Along the Yangtze River, the city of Wuhu, another emerging spot for investment in Anhui, has attracted 34 Fortune 500 enterprises.
Since 2003, Shanghai, Zhejiang and Jiangsu have experienced electricity shortages. Anhui has no such worry. It has power capacity of 15.8 million kW, which could meet the entire provincial demand. Four more power projects were approved last June that will increase the capacity to 30 million kW when operational in 2010. Part of the power will be transmitted elsewhere in the Yangtze River Delta.