XIAMEN: Eight hundred overseas projects from 66 countries are in Xiamen on the lookout for Chinese capital, proving this year's China International Fair for Investment and Trade (CIFIT) is a lot more than just a showcase event for domestic enterprises.
    "The event will serve as a bridge for Chinese enterprises to go abroad as well as for foreign capital to enter the mainland," Liu Yajun, director of the Executive Bureau of Investment Promotion of the Ministry of Commerce said yesterday.
    He is encouraging Chinese enterprises, which have submitted 16,223 projects to the fair in search of foreign investment, to use their economic strength to get involved in the global economy and develop transnational business.
    "Chinese firms like Huawei and Haier are famous overseas, even in developed countries, thanks to their innovation and manufacturing skills," Liu said.
Statistics from the Ministry of Commerce indicate by the end of last year Chinese non-financial investment in overseas regions hit US$44.8 billion, accounting for only 1 per cent of the global foreign direct investment.
    The revenues of overseas contracted projects reached US$114.03 billion.
    With representatives from Sweden, Poland, Belgium, Denmark, Canada, Italy, Hong Kong and Macao all seeking investors at CIFIC, Liu outlined his plans to develop the fair into a stage for investors throughout the world to look for their business
partners. "For example, an African company can come to Xiamen to look for an investor from Europe," he explained.
    The fair is scheduled to open today in Xiamen, a port city of East China's Fujian Province.
    By noon yesterday, 8,500 overseas delegates from 102 countries and regions had registered to attend the four-day event, while more than 400 famous enterprises, including Eastman Kodak and ABB will demonstrate their latest products and technology at the expo in the city.
    More than 1,300 media from home and abroad have come to the city to report on the event.
    There are "three new highlights" in this year's fair: An ASEM (Asia-Europe Meeting) Trade and Investment Exposition, a High-Profile Seminar on APEC Intellectual Property Protection and the first Cross-Straits Tourism Expo.
    More than 30 tourism enterprises from Taiwan have booked 320 booths at the Tourism Expo, trying to tap into the huge number of potential tourists from the mainland.
    The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) will also release a World Trade and Development Report during the fair.
    Statistics from the Ministry of Commerce indicate that more than 530,000 overseas investors from 190 nations and regions have established their companies in China, with an actual foreign direct investment value of 595.2 billion yuan (US$73.39 billion).
    More than 40 foreign enterprises have established regional headquarters in China, and at least 750 firms have set up research and development centres in the country.
     "Jiuba," or "September eighth," is a commonly used reference for the China International Fair for Investment and Trade (CIFIT) among local residents in Xiamen, a coastal city of East China's Fujian Province, since that is the day on which the fair begins.
     Over the years, the annual event has become as popular with local residents as it is with visitors from home and abroad seeking business opportunities.
     "As a taxi driver, I know this special event as it means I get more passengers than usual," said 38-year-old Huang Hongtong.
     Huang, who originates from Central China's Hunan Province and dresses smartly in white shirt and red tie for work, came to Xiamen nine years ago when the CIFIT was first held.
     "Time goes so fast!" he said. "Sometimes I even feel I have become a local resident and the fair has become a festival for residents."
     When the fair is in town, he can earn more than 300 yuan (US$37) a day, 30 per cent more than usual.
     "Most of the visitors to the fair choose to take a taxi, and some of the regular visitors have even become my friends," said Huang.
     His remarks were echoed by a great number of taxi drivers, including 29-year-old Xiang Chongming, a Xiamen resident.
     When interviewed, Xiang had just finished escorting a foreign visitor to the Xiamen International Convention and Exhibition      Centre, which plays host to thousands of exhibitors and visitors from China and overseas.
     "Although I cannot talk to foreign visitors, I still have a sense of pride and honour to be living in the host city. It's just like the Olympic Games with athletes competing and spectators cheering for a common goal," said Xiang.
     The only potential headache is an increased traffic flow during the fair but Xiang merely echoed the sentiments of most bus drivers, saying that operations will continue as usual and they do not anticipate much interference.
     So far, 248 organizations from 72 countries and regions, including the United States, France, China's Hong Kong and Taiwan have registered to join the annual business event in the port city.
     It's not only taxi drivers who will benefit from all this extra custom though.
     A large number of reporters from home and abroad have flocked to the city in search of stories, and the fair organizers expect a "news battle" to emerge.
    "The annual event provides lots of news resources for reporters," Kang Weijie, a reporter from Fuzhou, said at the APEC High-level Symposium on Intellectual Property Rights, one of the important symposiums held concurrently with the CIFIT.
     Most of the Fujian-based media groups are due to provide regular updates from the fair.
"Like many residents in Xiamen, the fair has also become a reporters' festival," said Kang.
To provide satisfactory services for investors and projects, International Investment Express sets aside a special section aiming to make available information shared by global investment projects and investors.
Editorial Department of International Investment Express for the ninth China International Fair for Investment and Trade
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