Originally Published MDDI August 2002
NEWS & ANALYSIS
As China's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) inches the country closer to an open market, a group of Chinese businessmen and professors is promoting the Yangtze River Basin as an investment opportunity for Westerners.
The not-for-profit, nongovernment Yangtze Council was formed in 1998 to facilitate and promote Western investment in the Yangtze region by offering market-entry and economic-development assistance. The council hopes its efforts will speed the industrial and technological development of inner China and address the disparity that exists between the region and the country's coastal cities.
Council representatives looking to attract medical device manufacturers to the region say that China's healthcare and hospital systems are undergoing major reform. The number of privately owned and foreign-invested hospitals will rise dramatically as a result of China's joining the WTO, subsequently driving up the market for medical devices and diagnostics there, they add. The country already allows private dental offices, so a market for foreign-made dental products exists, as does one for such advanced medical machines as computed tomography equipment.
Representatives of the Yangtze Council make some compelling arguments for the region. Nearly half of China's population lives there, and 40% of the country's urban population is spread across the river basin's 241 cities. The region covers approximately 1,118,700 sq mi, which accounts for almost one-fifth of all the land in China. The Yangtze River itself stretches across three of China's major economic zones. According to council members, the Chinese government plans to spend $200 billion on development of the area over the next five years.
The council favors joint partnerships between Chinese and Western companies as the main way to meet its goals. It also provides what it calls "frank, expert advice" from experienced Chinese investors in cultural, governmental, industrial, and regulatory issues.
See http://www.yangtzecouncil.org for more information.
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