China ‘will boost innovation, creativity’

Updated 12 October 2014

China ‘will boost innovation, creativity’

HAMBURG: China’s Premier Li Keqiang said the world’s second-biggest economy must open further to harness the innovative and creative talents of its 1.3 billion people.
After three decades of reforms, China — often called the world’s manufacturing workshop — had launched administrative and market reforms “to boost creation and innovation,” he said on a visit to Germany.
“What we hope is to incentivize 1.3 billion people, including 800-900 million workers, to mobilize their innovation capability and creativity so that everyone will have an opportunity to make great accomplishments,” he said.
This would “turn our dividend of population into a dividend of talents.”
Li was speaking at a business forum on the first country stop of a week-long Europe tour, a day after Berlin and Beijing signed a range of business deals and pledged to deepen links and boost trade that last year topped 140 billion euros ($177 billion).
The premier delivered his speech in the northern port of Hamburg, a European base for 500 Chinese companies and the gateway for half of Germany’s annual trade with China, equating to 2.7 million shipping containers last year.
Li reminded his audience that China is a “driving force of growth and recovery of the world economy,” predicting GDP growth of about 7.5 percent this year, despite multiple global crises.
Just as important for China, he said, was job creation, raising household incomes and the “war against pollution.”
During Li’s visit foreign companies operating in China again voiced long-standing complaints about unfair market access, including being blocked from public tenders and having to form local joint ventures.
The premier said China must integrate further with its economic partners, protect intellectual property rights, enforce fair business rules and create “a level playing field” under government oversight.
“China needs to learn from other countries as well as the fine achievements of human civilization, and must combine these with China’s own national conditions, so that China will become a (hotbed) for creation and will be a huge market for the world,” he said.
Li said, China “must rely on innovative development, and we cannot do this without the rest of the world. The world also needs China to achieve prosperity.”
He stressed that for the Chinese economy “there will not be a hard landing, as suggested by some media.”
He added that “economic development is not a sprint, instead it is a long-distance race that never ends... there should be a certain speed but more importantly we need perseverence and stamina.”
Li is on his second Europe tour since taking office this year, which next takes him to Russia, where he will meet President Vladimir Putin, before he travels to Italy for an October 16-17 meeting of Asian and European leaders.


Japanese keen to invest in Saudi entertainment, tourism sectors

Saudi Arabia is one large open-air museum, offering a testimony to past civilizations. (Shutterstock)
Updated 12 min 14 sec ago

Japanese keen to invest in Saudi entertainment, tourism sectors

  • ‘Japan is one of Saudi Arabia’s main target countries when it comes attracting tourists’

TOKYO: There is a genuine interest among Japanese companies to invest in Saudi Arabia’s rapidly growing entertainment and tourism industries, with some planning to set up their own operations in the Kingdom soon, according to Saudi officials.

Avex, a major Japanese company in the entertainment industry, is planning on “launching its own office in Saudi Arabia and start its own entertainment calendar for it,” Muhannad Abanmy, general manager for entertainment infrastructure development at the Kingdom’s General Entertainment Authority (GEA), told Arab News Japan in an exclusive interview.

“We’ve locked a meeting with Avex (on Thursday) to seal (the deal) with them to open their office in Saudi Arabia,” Abanmy said on the sidelines of the Saudi-Japan Vision 2030 Business Forum in Tokyo on Wednesday.

Avex is one of Japan’s top entertainment conglomerates, founded and led by Max Matsuura. It specializes in the audiovisual business as well as anime, video games, live music events and fireworks, among other entertainment-related industries.

Matsuura, who attended Wednesday’s event, spoke of the successful collaboration between Avex and Saudi authorities during the Saudi National Day in Jeddah, and said the company plans to expand its efforts in the Kingdom.

FASTFACTS

● Total trade volume between both countries is $38 billion.

● The Saudi entertainment industry to generate up to $67 billion in 10 years.

● The Kingdom plans to attract 2 million visitors by 2022.

● Thousands of e-visas have been issued since the launch of Saudi Arabia’s tourism e-visa in September.

Saudi officials are banking on the good relations their country has with Japan, including economic ties. 

They say the size of business cooperation between them can grow further with the new entertainment and tourism sectors opened.

Total trade volume between both countries is $38 billion. But “Japan has a lot to offer in terms of expertise,” Sultan Mofti, deputy governor for investment attraction at the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA), told Arab News Japan.

“Looking at the size of investments in Saudi Arabia by Japanese companies tells you that there’s a lot of room to grow,” he said.

“The creation of the Saudi-Japan Vision 2030 program, the inauguration of the Riyadh office and the launch of the Tokyo office will help a lot in bridging the gap in communicating opportunities to Japanese businesses,” he added.

“That’s what we offer at SAGIA, by offering a portfolio of 20 services to Japanese businesses that are willing to invest in Saudi Arabia,” Mofti said.

“Investors won’t come until they know the return on their investment is high,” but it will be very rewarding to invest in Saudi Arabia, he added.

The Kingdom has great potential in terms of its purchasing power, with nearly 7 million people residing in each of two cities: Riyadh and Jeddah.

One entertainment event saw nearly 400,000 people attend, to the extent that the organizers had to refuse entry to many due to congestion, said officials. 

They expect the entertainment industry to generate up to $67 billion in 10 years and create hundreds of thousands of jobs as it grows.

Despite being the new kid on the block in the entertainment industry, Saudi Arabia has managed so far to create a buzz worldwide with jaw-dropping festivals and star-studded events. But as with all new things, challenges are bound to emerge.

“It’s challenging because it’s new, but the future is there,” said Abanmy, adding that the few handicaps that have been faced, including lack of regulation at one point, usually get sorted by the GEA.

The Saudi government is adamant on supporting its adolescent entertainment industry and the tourism sector, sparing neither cash nor effort to achieve the goal of becoming a global tourist destination.

Some SR5 billion ($1.33 billion) have been spent over the past two years to launch and support the entertainment industry in Saudi Arabia, attracting millions visitors from within the Kingdom and the wider Arab Gulf, said Abanmy.

Sports events are part of the attraction. In December, Saudi Arabia will host the world heavyweight boxing championship.

A world-class tennis tournament will follow suit in mid-December, which has generated a lot of interest among tourists from near and far, Abanmy said. “Recently, we had some 3,600 tourists arriving at King Khalid Airport at the same time,” he added.

This would not have happened had the Saudis not opened up their country to attract investors, officials say.

Thousands of e-visas have been issued since the launch of Saudi Arabia’s tourism e-visa in September, Majid Al-Ghanim, tourism and quality of life managing director at SAGIA, told Arab News Japan on Wednesday.

The Kingdom plans to attract 2 million visitors by 2022, and to see revenue generated from the sector reaching $2 billion by 2030.

Up to 1 million jobs from direct and indirect tourism-related businesses will be available to Saudis in the next seven years, said Al-Ghanim.

This is part of the sustainability approach that the government is planning and that helps increase employment, he added.

Nearly “75 percent of those jobs will be in the private sector, while the government can fulfill the rest,” he said.

Like Abanmy, Al-Ghanim said the Kingdom is targeting Japanese nationals and investors, adding: “Japan is one of the main target countries when it comes to tourists. We’d like to attract tourists from Japan to Saudi Arabia. We want to target and attract the Japanese.” The two countries share similarities in terms of heritage and tradition, he added.

From tourism visas to fun-filled and adrenalin-generating adventures, the Kingdom can offer it all and much more, said Al-Ghanim.

He added that Saudi Arabia is one large open-air museum, offering a testimony to past civilizations, 2,000 years of human heritage and a diverse ecology.

This is manifested in its “large formation of rocks,” archaeological sites, traditional markets, mild weather on one side of the country and a desert on the other, Al-Ghanim said.