Provence Promotion reaches out to Chinese investors

Provence Promotion reaches out to Chinese investors
Speech by Philippe Stéfanini, CEO of Provence Promotion, on the CIIE and the Choose France 2019 seminar
03 December 2020 / Eco-industries, Energy, Grow your business, invest in provence, Logistics, Media

An adapted action plan with several digital interventions

Despite the public health crisis that continues to affect the whole world, efforts to position Aix-Marseille-Provence in the minds of Chinese decision makers are still under way. China is one of the rare countries to post economic growth in 2020, in addition to having an enduring positive growth outlook for the coming years. This is why Provence Promotion has maintained its work to draw the attention of Chinese manufacturers to the opportunities on offer in the region to reach their European markets from Provence.

Alongside the major economic actors in the region, the agency has participated in events and conferences all year focused on projects located along the new silk roads (CIIE, ALMAC, Belt & Road Summit, etc.). On December 7, when the Chinese group Quechen went public, it marked the occasion by showcasing its European plant in Fos-sur-Mer where it will make green silica-based tires. The factory, which will be the biggest ever built on French soil by a Chinese manufacturer, could well inspire other industrial firms from China and Asian countries in general.

Thanks to a targeted action plan aimed at Chinese investors, Provence Promotion is pulling out all the stops to boost cooperation between Provence and China.

On November 5, 2020, Provence Promotion and Business France co-hosted a "Choose France" seminar at the third edition of CIIE, the largest Chinese international trade show in Shanghai. The event enabled Provence Promotion to reiterate the investment opportunities available in Aix-Marseille and to invite two major players to give first-hand accounts.

Tianjin Tianlong, a group specializing in food processing and recyclable and biodegradable packaging that recently decided to base its European subsidiary in Pays d'Arles at Tarascon, spoke about the reasons for its investment: "We are very happy to be able to develop our operations in southern France. We share the same values and the same way of looking at business and life. Our location in Provence will allow us to cover all of France and Europe," explained Baojun Wan, CEO of the Chinese group.

The Chinese executive team of CMA CGM, a world leader in maritime transport and logistics based in Marseille since its founding in 1978 and operating in China since the 1980s, also encouraged Chinese entrepreneurs to take advantage of Provence's advantages in reaching their European markets: "CMA CGM has embarked on a large-scale ecological initiative and Chinese investments in next-generation energy infrastructure are very welcome in Provence," declared Ludovic Renou, who heads up the group in China.

Arranging multiple touchpoints is fundamental

To establish Provence as a target region in the minds of Chinese investors, it is important to make regular appearances at the events where they gather. Many of those activities could not occur in their usual format this year, but they were all held virtually, preserving a high standard of quality in terms of speakers and topics.

At the most recent edition of the Asian Logistics, Maritime and Aviation Conference (ALMAC), the biggest convention of its kind in Asia devoted to logistics and organized by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), several economic stakeholders from the region (Port of Marseille-Fos, Marseille Provence Airport, GMIF, Via Marseille Fos, PIICTO and Provence Promotion) took part to demonstrate the potential of Provence in the fields of industrial decarbonization, industry 4.0 and sustainable logistics. The desired mix between optimal logistics accessibility and decarbonized industrial platforms aligns with, for example, the model at the PIICTO circular economy platform at the Port of Marseille, which is backed by Via Marseille Fos and the GMIF to identify the right partners for transport or industrial services.

The objective of the presentation prepared by "Team Provence" was to establish connections between the region's supply chain players and their counterparts in Qingdao, the fourth-largest port in China and number 7 in the world. That city had arranged an in-person gathering at its Bureau of Commerce (BOFCOM) to convene executives in manufacturing and sea and air logistics for a special conversation with Aix-Marseille Provence. The virtual round table came in the wake of a collaboration agreement signed between the GMIF and the BOFCOM at last year's CIIE and President Macron's visit to Shanghai.

Even more recently (November 30 ‒ December 1), Provence Promotion attended the Belt & Road Summit to push the region's offering. It invited Oliver Mathiot, President of thecamp, to speak at a pitch session about innovation and technology, alongside the likes of Sergei Dutov, Director of Business Development and Industrial Partnerships at the Skolkovo Innovation Center, Russia's biggest accelerator for innovative start-ups.

To address the energy transition, Stéphane Reiche from the Port of Marseille-Fos introduced the Smartport project ‒ shoreside electricity and the development of LNG and a hydrogen chain to produce green, renewable energy ‒ at a session addressing energy, natural resources and utilities.

Identify intersecting investment opportunities

Thanks to these actions, intersecting investment opportunities have already been identified. Qingdao is planning to build a new airport and will be looking to open flights to Europe for passengers and freight, an opportunity that the Marseille-Provence airport will pursue.

Qingdao also just authorized a French investor to build a business park devoted to manufacturing equipment for use in new and renewable energies that will host outposts of French companies looking to access the Chinese market.

Port of Marseille-Fos: at the heart of strategic pathways and international trade

While the Port of Marseille-Fos is already a strategic hub for transporting merchandise, it is also a prime location for data exchanges. With 14 digital submarine cables, and China's forthcoming PEACE cable which will follow the path of the new silk roads, it is a true digital access gateway between Europe and Asia.

Today, Marseille provides access to 43 countries and 4.5 billion users and by 2025, the total bandwidth available will quadruple again to offer the lowest latencies between Europe and Asia.

Quechen, an ambassador for Provence

The first example of the cooperative efforts under way between China and Provence in sustainable and circular industry is illustrated by the Chinese manufacturer Quechen, which plans to base its green tire production operations in Fos-sur-Mer.

The group that went public on the Shanghai stock exchange has chosen that key milestone to highlight the region. A powerful joint video message from all the partners in the Provence region, metropolitan area, CCIAMP, Port of Marseille-Fos and Provence Promotion was screened on December 7 before an audience of government authorities and investors. It was a golden opportunity to showcase the region in China.