The city of Jiangmen has much to offer. Its culture, environment and precise planning make it ideal for conducting
business and much more. By Philip Annetta
Nestled on the Pearl River Delta, the city of Jiangmen in southern China’s Guangdong Province awaits, just a convenient 2.5-hour ferry ride away from Hong Kong. Like most cities built along rivers, it has a certain tranquil quality, even with the hum that befits its status as a growing business destination.
When driving from the ferry terminal, visitors quickly notice two things: the wide, modern roads and intersections; and the verdant green of trees and neat foliage along the roadways, as befits a modern subtropical city.
These impressions reveal much. Traffic infrastructure forms a key part of the city’s long-term planning for its urban area and for links to the rest of Guangdong, while the green areas are another planning priority. One such area, the famous East Lake Park, serves as the city’s centrally located lungs and covers 53 hectares, 17 of them water surface.
Based on the maxim that “planning makes a better city”, Jiangmen pursues a long-term urban-planning process, as displayed in its Urban Planning Exhibition Hall, a new building in the museum district. The hall shows the city’s current and planned stages, its industrial capacity and its arterial transport links. The government’s commitments to culture and lifestyle also appear in the preservation and rehabilitation plans for historic areas, the bicycle-friendly road plans that add to the existing cycling paths along rivers and in parks, and the five models for a new sports district on which many of the 4.4 million citizens are voting.
History and culture
Jiangmen has a long history of exchange with the rest of the world — even people who have never visited there have gained some exposure to its culture. Known as “the number-one homeland of overseas Chinese”, Jiangmen boasts of more than four million sons and daughters living elsewhere in 107 countries and regions. Many of these people have proven instrumental to their adopted countries and to their homeland, and Jiangmen’s architecture, food and even manners testify to this. The Jiangmen Wuyi Museum of Overseas Chinese commemorates the cultural exchange associated with 150 years of immigration, and demonstrates Jiangmen’s commitment to honouring its culture.
Of course, Jiangmen’s people also stay justifiably proud of the culture that they continue to build. The city and its residents are known for being well-mannered and civilised. In 2011 the Central Government bestowed the honour of designating Jiangmen as a “National-Level Civilised City”.
Moreover, the city is very safe. A low incidence of public-security violations and a decline in criminal cases for six consecutive years reflect well on the commitment to social order by the police and by residents’ groups, and on a full-city camera network.
According to Li Dejian, the president of Jiangmen Keye Electric Appliances Mfg Co Ltd (Keye), Jiangmen is one of the safest cities in China. This was important to Keye, a leading producer and exporter of fans and fan motors, in its decision to conduct business there.
Ian Corlett, an Australian director of LED company iDEALED Lighting Co, agrees. “We looked at several cities,” he says of himself and a Chinese business partner. “We wanted to form a new company producing high-quality LED products for the markets in Australia and worldwide. Any location that we chose needed to allow for reasonable operational costs, be close to raw materials, have support industries and allow easy shipping options. It also had to provide a comfortable lifestyle for our management and staff.
“We decided on Jiangmen because it ticked all of the boxes,” he continues. “It offers a safe and friendly work and social environment. The cost of living is reasonable and has been constantly improved by the government. Beautification of the city continues and is noticeable every time I return.”
A business base
As Jiangmen builds its reputation as a business centre, the government is leading the way in creating a business-friendly situation to match the cultural environment. Key policies focus on advanced infrastructure and on attracting and then retaining investment.
As one of China’s electric energy bases, the area already is well served with energy. The government is broadening the base with nuclear power supported by a nuclear-equipment industry. The clean nuclear option — comprising two third-generation units with the world’s largest capacity — is complemented by more investment in wind and gas.
The government also continues to develop the area’s materials supply base and deepen the capabilities in environmentally friendly LED lighting, in which the city is a leader by quantity and technologically.
Meanwhile, the roads impress for good reasons. The Jiangmen area leads Guangdong in total highway mileage. Expressways to the major cities in western Guangdong and the Pearl River Delta are completed, while the new Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge scheduled to open in 2016 will give a further fast link to the city.
Jiangmen is well served by air, rail and sea too. Five international airports operate within a two-hour drive. The city also has links by inter-city train to Zhuhai and is just 45 minutes from Guangzhou by EMU high-speed train.
“The Intercity Transit Vehicles from Guangzhou make Jiangmen much more accessible for us and our international customers,” says Corlett. Further rail links under construction will cut the travel times to Shenzhen and Macau to one hour.
As for the sea links, “buyers easily can visit us because we are so close to Hong Kong”, says Sarah Leung of Jiangmen Ying You Trading Co Ltd (Ying You), a major houseware manufacturer and exporter.
As an export producer, Jiangmen naturally has a “very helpful” port, especially in how it transits cargo to the main port, Leung says. Keye’s Li concurs. “Jiangmen is a transit port, so it offers many choices for places and dates to ship onwards,” he says, adding that the new highway halves or quarters the time that Keye’s goods need to reach Jiangmen’s port. Overall, Keye is “very satisfied” with the infrastructure.
Proactive investment policies
As for attracting and retaining investment, the government’s Bureau of Commerce (BOFCOM) pursues policies benchmarked to international practices. The cross-industry policies include a 30-per-cent discount on buying or renting land and a subsidy for setting up workshops. Some incentives apply to specific industries, such as MOVCD equipment imported for the LED industry, which is subsidised up to RMB12m. Furthermore, each of Jiangmen’s industrial zones (see page 11) have policies tailored to the industries operating there.
Perhaps most importantly, the policies can vary by project and be tailored to individual investors who may negotiate suitable, company-specific deals with BOFCOM. To better manage business setups, BOFCOM operates a government service centre as a one-stop shop, even with an express service to give personal help to solve problems.
“The government is a great help,” says Leung. “It gives us a discount on fairs and ads at those fairs, plus free training on business and export subjects.”
BOFCOM is proactive too. “The people there always try to find more and better ways to help,” Leung adds. “For example, recently they assisted us to learn about particular markets to boost our exports. It’s easier to enter new markets with all of the research and information available.”
“They are very good,” adds Li. “For us, as a joint venture, we can draw on government support from both Hong Kong and Jiangmen — it’s no problem.”
Impartial surveys confirm the strength of Jiangmen’s policy environment. In the past decade, external studies by bodies including the World Bank, Forbes magazine and the Asia-Pacific Research Institute of the University of Hong Kong, consistently placed the city first or near the top among its peers on investment safety, government efficiency and ease of doing business.
Along with its investment and general business-support strategies, BOFCOM offers other assistance more specific to individual manufacturers and exporters. For example, it helps SMEs to arrange for financing and support from guarantee companies.
“We also ensure that the customs service is of a high standard, including an efficient commodity clearance and inspection service” says director-general David Zhou. “As well, we provide strong forex-exchange and other financial services, offering a one-stop solution to importers and exporters.”
Leung expresses satisfaction with the inspection service. “It benefits buyers and manufacturers,” she says.
For Keye, many BOFCOM services have proven important, including the organising of 13 trade fairs at which manufacturers can exhibit. “Jiangmen’s tax department also has quickened tax-rebate processing so that exporters can realise their profits sooner and improve cash flows,” says Li. “For foreign trade, you also need payment insurance and it (BOFCOM) helps to arrange a discount on that.”
The government recognises innovation in product development coupled with good design as critical to Jiangmen’s continued development as an innovative manufacturing destination. In 2011, it established the Jiangmen International Creative Design Association (JICDA), which facilitates the growth of innovation and design in several ways. The JICDA launched a yearly design competition, assists local company representatives to go beyond China to see design trends (for example, to Milan) and helps companies holding patents to visit trade fairs, thereby encouraging IP creation. The JICDA also offers training courses in design and product development, plus design services. It even facilitates the creation of a special zone at the Jiangmen-Zhongshan-Guangzhou trade fair to show locally designed and branded products.
Ying You regularly uses the JICDA’s services. “Through the JICDA, the government also cooperates with the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) for designers to go to Hong Kong as needed,” Leung says. “This broadens the product development options so that companies can offer more complete services to buyers, from sourcing and materials to design and delivery.”
According to Li, “The JICDA training focuses on innovation and design. With that support and encouragement, we won a JICDA design award, so it has been a great help.”
Both companies have seen positive results. Keye overcame the limited options for mass-market fan designs and materials by designing one in an antique style using metal. That gained attention in a US lifestyle-and-design magazine and led to a large order enquiry.
“So the export value is high because of the price point, not the quantity,” Li says. “Design to us means standing out, and that is what we did with this product.”
Keye also received a large order on an early-patented product, which made the company realise the importance of IP. “Now we focus on that,” says Li.
As for Ying You, the company is now in a position to consider joint projects with foreign design companies. It is moving towards ODM and expects other companies to do the same as Jiangmen becomes better known for its design as well as manufacturing capacity. “The government gives us support for branding,” says Leung.
To further support this area, the government in 2005 set up laws to protect all IP in Jiangmen, both that produced locally and from outside. In 2011, more than 5,000 patents were granted to Jiangmen companies. More recently, in February 2012, the government opened the Jiangmen Innovation and Creativity Industrial Zone. This has attracted enterprises in creative areas like culture, art, comics, videogame animation, film and media production, software development, industrial design and design consultation.
The Jiangmen government also focuses on preserving and sustaining the city’s unique ecology. It promotes saving resources and maintains standards of air quality, drinking water and urban noise-control in line with, or exceeding, national standards. The city has won “the National Prize for Residential Environment Award”, been named among China’s top-10 green-economy cities and called an example of sustainable development in developing countries by the World Bank. As Li says, “Other cities offer investment enticements, but Jiangmen’s air quality and city planning set it apart.”
Of course, sustainability means developing and supporting people too. Jiangmen has a well-developed vocational and tertiary education system, ranking it high among Guangdong cities. In addition, all residents of the urban and rural areas are covered by the municipality’s medical insurance.
Preserving a competitive edge
Jiangmen’s investment environment, infrastructure and forward-thinking government enable the enterprises based there to compete and prosper globally. Ying You and Keye provide excellent examples in the houseware and electrical-appliance sectors, both being long-established industries there. In addition, the planning of industrial zones and the 87 chambers of commerce and industry associations facilitate rapid development of capability, leading to world-class product specialisation.
“Our product specialty provides our competitive edge,” says Ying You’s Leung. “Jiangmen has famous products and leads the way with materials like specialty stainless steel. That gives us a strong supply chain. And many industries here started about 20 years ago, so they have lots of experience.”
As she adds, “When buyers come here, they see that our products are world-class.”
Jiangmen Ying You Trading Co Ltd anticipates a few key houseware trends for the year ahead. Bright colours, like orange and vibrant greens or blues, will be popular. In materials, products made of mixed materials look promising, and Ying You believes that classic ceramic, stainless steel and silicone will form the basis. Finally, on functions, the company expects a growing demand for no-tool assembly and knock-down.
Jiangmen Keye Electric Appliances Mfg Co Ltd innovates to meet changing demands too. It anticipates more orders for industrial and commercial ventilation, and adds value through continuous design innovation. For example, enhanced blade placements can improve the throughput of air, while adding a power outlet means that fans can function for longer, improving air quality in areas with few outlets, like farm buildings.
In 2014, Jiangmen’s GDP exceeded US$33.5bn, and its industrial-value-added surpassed US$19.2bn. The region is home to 19 national-level industrial bases, ranging from bathroom hardware, stainless steel, electric energy and auto parts to new materials, electronic information and semiconductors.
The five pillars of Jiangmen’s export industry are houseware; small electrical appliances; bags, suitcases and leather goods; motorcycles; and building materials. All these showed strong growth in 2012, and together account for exports exceeding US$12bn.
No. of companies / manufacturers
Export volume to Oct 2012 (US$bn)
Annual export growth
Small electrical appliances
Bags, suitcases and leather goods
Jiangmen’s industrial development plan encompasses 10 strategic, emerging industries, all present and assisted by the government:
Textiles and chemical fibres
Midstream and downstream petrochemical
Paper-making and paper products
Core industrial parks
Concentration of industry helps to facilitate development while ensuring material availability and necessary infrastructure. Industrial parks lie at the core of Jiangmen’s advanced industry. They contain enterprises with private, public and three-capital funding, plus familiar top-500 names. Many have research and development facilities, business services and living/leisure areas.
Jiangmen High-Tech Industrial Park
Cross-industry high-tech platform with a port industrial park and commercial centre. 362 projects operating of nearly 500 planned
Taishan Clean Energy (Nuclear Power) Equipment Industrial Park
Nuclear equipment development under Twelfth Five-Year Plan
Guangdong Regional Rail Transit Industrial Park
Advanced rail and supporting industries
Advanced Manufacturing Base Jiangsha Demonstration Zone
Cross-industry platform with auto and motorcycle, food, new energy and new materials. More than 60 foreign-funded enterprises, annual output of about US$5bn
Jiangmen Industrial Transfer Park
Development of electronic information, metal machinery manufacturing, textiles and clothing
Xinhui Economic Development Zone
Cross-industry platform with chemicals, stainless steel and machinery
Taishan Advanced Manufacturing Industries Park
Auto parts, hardware, machinery and related advanced industries
Taishan Guanghai Bay Industrial Park of Guangdong
Equipment manufacturing, chemical, marine engineering and harbour
Guangdong Yinzhou Lake Paper Base
Paper making and related industries
Yamen Designated Electroplating Industrial Base
Metal plating including gold, silver, copper, chromium and zinc
Heshan Industrial Park
Advanced manufacturing with new energy, new light sources, new medicine, auto parts, machinery and electronic information
For more information on Jiangmen’s foreign-trade companies, click here / scan the QR code below to access the e-mag version of “Jiangmen Product Focus 2015” .
Buyers can also install the “Jiangmen Made” iPad App for easy access when on the road. Search and download “Jiangmen Made” in the Apple App Store now!