Nejnavštěvovanější odborný portál pro stavebnictví a technická zařízení budov

Důležitost malých a středních podniků v čínské ekonomice

The Chinese economy is changing. From the average 10% GDP growth that the post-WTO years heralded, the prediction for GDP growth in 2014 is 7.4% and this is predicted to fall further to between 6 to 7% by 2020. This is not a bad thing, especially for SMEs from the EU. Implied in the drop is the need for the Chinese economy to restructure itself, away from export led manufacturing, which has limitations on value-add to the economy and which is adding to China’s environmental woes, towards a more sustainable model based on consumption and services being a greater part of GDP growth and the need for greater productivity.

China has historically liked ‘big’. Big infrastructure projects, investment in large SOEs, incentivising large MNCs to enter the market, but there are signs that SMEs, both Chinese and foreign, are increasingly being recognised for the part they can play in China’s evolving economy. Premier Li Keqiang in recent speeches has been adamant on China’s need to raise quality standards and innovate; from China’s strategic emerging industries, innovation led growth, and the need to make Chinese workers more productive and skilful, EU SMEs have the technologies, products and services which can play a part in accelerating China’s development.

From the research that the EU SME Centre has carried out, significant opportunities have been identified in a wide array of market sectors. The ICT industry, for example, considered by the government a national priority and therefore strongly supported in 12th five year plan, presents good prospects for EU SMEs, especially in high-value niches such as mobile app development, IT consultancy and outsourcing for financial and healthcare institutions seeking to upgrade their systems, and data integration and quality software, a segment that has showed growth rates of around 32% along the last few years.

Similarly, in the F&B sector, SMEs can leverage the quality of their products to capitalise on the growing spending propensity of the new, and more health-savvy, Chinese consumers. Not to mention the burgeoning E and M Commerce markets, whose share on the GDP has already reached 5.5% and is set to continue growing in the foreseeable future. Healthcare, in addition, is offering good opportunities to EU SMEs on account of an aging population and the authorities’ focus on enhancing social welfare.

It is also not only a question of ‘what’ but ‘where’. China’s second and third tier cities, and generally the inlands, have been the targets of specific policies by the national and local authorities since the early 2000s aimed at reducing economic imbalances and closing the wealth gap between the coastal and inner parts of the territory. Heavy investments in infrastructure and social safety have resulted in sustained growth rates and enhanced cross-regional market integration. As a result, an expanding middle class has emerged, which, together with the local governments’ eagerness for FDI, makes second and third cities appealing business prospects for EU SMEs.

However, although the opportunities are significant so are the challenges. From the many consultations that the EU SME Centre has provided, EU SMEs who are resource constrained and far away from the Chinese market find it difficult to navigate the complex bureaucratic system - when setting up a company, for example, to understand cultural differences - when negotiating and adapting their products to the market and, to find the right Chinese partners (such as distributors and agents). IPR protection also remains an ongoing concern. Improving these aspects of the business environment will inevitably bring more goods and services from European SMEs, equally important though will be the need for the recognition in China that SMEs can add value to the economy and their businesses in more ways than they can imagine – that small can also be beautiful.