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The Greater Bay Area in 2024: Foreign investment destination profile

The Greater Bay Area in 2024: Foreign investment destination profile.

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The Greater Bay Area of China has been in many investors’ thoughts ever since the Chinese government started to actively promote it as an investment destination in the second half of the 2010s.

Formerly looked at as nine cities in mainland China and the two autonomous regions of Macao and Hong Kong, the present and future of this region have a common interconnected purpose in which synergies and common strategies will be followed so that the region grows as a whole.

The past few years have proven challenging with the Pandemic, and now the wars in Europe and the Middle East, which in a global and interconnected world, are also felt here.

In this article, we will explore the key strengths of the Greater Bay Area of 2024 and its areas of interest for foreign and local investors alike, as well as economic predictions for the present and coming years.

In the past few years, the Greater Bay Area (GBA) in China has been gaining attention as a significant investment destination comprising nine cities in Guangdong province, alongside Hong Kong and Macau, this region has rapidly emerged as a hub for technological innovation, finance, and trade. With its strategic location in Asia, supportive government policies, and robust economic growth, the GBA presents a compelling case for foreign investment across various sectors.

Of all the areas ripe for investment, one area stands above most, with substantial potential for fruitful and profitable investment. This is, of course, advanced manufacturing, which is the use of production activities that depend on information, automation, computation, software, sensing, and networking, as opposed to traditional or cheap manufacturing, which for years has been the main output of the GBA. However, as China keeps improving the level of its production infrastructure and technical capabilities, as well as the ability to scale an operation size unlike any other country, low-cost manufacturing is slowly disappearing from this region and migrating to other less developed and more competitive neighbouring countries in Asia.

Moving on, the region’s proximity to major international markets, coupled with its strong industrial base, makes it an attractive location for companies seeking to establish or expand their manufacturing operations.

In addition to this, the Chinese government has been actively promoting advanced manufacturing initiatives, especially in sectors such as robotics, electric vehicles, and high-tech materials. This focus on innovation and technological advancement creates numerous opportunities for foreign and local investors looking to participate in the growth of the region’s manufacturing landscape. An example of this can be seen in the 14th Five-year plan ,which the government has issued on March 11, 2021 at the annual session of China’s top legislature.

Moreover, the GBA excels in the realm of financial services and technology. As one of the largest financial hubs in Asia, the region offers a conducive environment for foreign financial institutions and fintech companies to expand their presence. With Hong Kong as a (still) prominent global financial centre and Shenzhen as a leading technology innovation hub, the GBA provides a unique convergence of finance and technology, fostering a fertile ground for investment in areas such as digital banking, blockchain, and financial infrastructure development. An example of this fostering of technology and technology-based companies can be seen in some of the initiatives that the local municipal government has undertaken in recent months and years, such as the 20-point plan for boosting funding for these companies.

Furthermore, the development of the GBA as a leading global technology and innovation hub presents compelling opportunities for foreign investment. Shenzhen, for example, often hailed as China’s Silicon Valley, has established itself as a pioneer in technology and hardware manufacturing, attracting tech giants, startups, and research institutions from around the world. The region’s emphasis on fostering a vibrant innovation ecosystem through collaboration, R&D incentives, and technology transfer initiatives has positioned it as a key destination for foreign investors seeking to tap into China’s burgeoning tech landscape.

Real estate and infrastructure development also stand out as promising areas for investment within the GBA. Although the past few years have been quite hard in the real estate sector with many companies going under, real estate remains a pillar sector of the economy both on a local and national level.

The region’s ambitious infrastructure projects, including high-speed railways, airports, and cross-border connectivity initiatives (some examples of which can be found here), present lucrative opportunities for foreign investors to participate in the expansion of the area’s transportation and logistics networks. Additionally, the demand for commercial and residential properties will continue to surge in the long term, driven by urbanisation, demographic shifts, and ongoing economic growth, making real estate a compelling sector for foreign capital deployment.

Globalisation

The GBA’s increasing integration with global markets and its status as a key driver of China’s economic growth underpins its appeal as an essential foreign investment destination in the future. As seen in the past few years, the Chinese government’s unwavering commitment to transforming the region into a world-class economic powerhouse, supported by policies such as preferential tax treatment for individuals and companies in preferred sectors, streamlined administrative procedures, and improved market access, further enhances its attractiveness to foreign investors.

Where investment is concerned, the GBA presents a myriad of opportunities for foreign investment across diverse sectors, which as mentioned range from manufacturing and finance to technology and real estate. With its strategic positioning, government support, and flourishing innovation ecosystem, the region is poised to play a pivotal role in shaping the future of global investment landscapes. As businesses and investors seek to capitalise on the region’s growth prospects and economic dynamism, the GBA stands out as a compelling and important destination for foreign investment in the years to come, something that can be seen especially after the signature of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) entered into force on 1 January 2022, which has been considerably helpful for the Chinese economy and the growth of its exports and trade increase with other signatory countries.

Infrastructure and connectivity

Certainly, the GBA has seen a surge in major infrastructure projects, which not only enhance connectivity within the region but also solidify its position as a global economic powerhouse. In recent years, significant initiatives such as the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link, and the development of the Shenzhen-Hong Kong Innovation and Technology Zone have marked substantial milestones in the area’s infrastructure development. These projects have bolstered cross-regional transportation networks, improved logistics efficiency, and fostered closer integration among the cities within the GBA.

Looking ahead, the GBA continues to embark on ambitious infrastructure endeavours. The Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao GBA development plan encompasses a wide range of future projects, including the construction of the Shenzhen-Zhongshan Bridge, and the expansion and modernisation of various port facilities. These undertakings seek to further enhance intercity connectivity, bolster trade facilitation, and advance the region’s economic integration, thereby creating a conducive environment for foreign investment across multiple industries.

Economic growth

When considering the GDP predictions for the GBA, it’s evident that the region is poised for substantial economic expansion, with a predicted growth of GDP in 5% for the year of 2024. Over the coming years, experts anticipate robust growth, driven by factors such as urbanisation, technological innovation, and inter-city collaboration. With concerted efforts to form a globally competitive economic cluster, the GDP of the GBA is forecasted to exhibit remarkable expansion, outpacing many other regions in China. Moreover, the synergistic effect of combining the individual strengths of the cities within the GBA is expected to lead to an acceleration of economic growth, further solidifying its status as a premier investment destination for both domestic and foreign investors. This comes as no surprise, as Guangdong has traditionally been the richest province in China.

Conclusion

Considering these significant infrastructure developments and optimistic GDP projections, the GBA presents a compelling case for foreign investment, offering a fertile ground for businesses and investors seeking to capitalise on the region’s dynamic economic prospects and expansive market potential.

As China is still recovering from the negative impact caused by Covid in both the country’s economy and its attractiveness as an investment destination, 2024 and the coming years may be the time in which a pre-covid investor confidence is restored and both local and foreign companies choose China and not other neighbouring countries for their Asia based strategy and operation.

As seen in the past few months with many measures facilitating entry into the country, the government has been granting signs to the rest of the world that China is still open for business and that foreign investment is welcome and needed.

We at Acclime, will be following all developments on the GBA. For more updates on this and other China business-related matters.Stay informed about these updates by following us on WeChat (@Acclime凯晋), subscribing to our newsletter, and reaching out to our offices located in China and across Asia.


Contact our teams for expert support and further information about China’s economy.

Russel Brown OBE, Vice Chairman, Partner, r.brown@acclime.com
Robin Tabbers, Partner, r.tabbers@acclime.com
Maxime Van ‘t Klooster, Partner, m.vantklooster@acclime.com


About Acclime.

Acclime China helps established multinational companies and startups start and operate their business in China. By seamlessly navigating our clients through the complexities of the Chinese laws and bureaucracy, we allow them to reclaim valuable time and fully focus on growing and developing their business.

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