Asia Briefing: Commentators rubbish narrative of slowdown in Chinese economy
Rumours of the death of China’s remarkable growth story have been greatly exaggerated, according to Jim O’Neill, former head of Goldman Sachs Asset Management and now a pundit who has stayed steadfastly bullish on China’s prospects all the way through the recent apparent slowdown.
Equally positive on China’s prospects is Europe’s biggest carmaker Volkswagen, which plans to double production capacity at a newly-opened factory in the southern Chinese city of Foshan, part of its efforts to shake Japan’s dominance in the region.
The plant in Foshan city in Guangdong province, which it operates under a venture with state-owned automotive enterprise FAW Group, is capable of producing 300,000 vehicles a year and it recently started to manufacture the redesigned Volkswagen Golf car. The aim is to boost the plant’s capacity to 600,000 vehicles a year with an investment of 15.3 billion yuan (€1.85 billion).
Volkswagen, which also sells the Audi, Skoda, Lamborghini and Bentley brands in China, plans to boost the group’s annual manufacturing capacity in China to four million vehicles by 2018.
Volkswagen increased its China sales by 18.5 per cent last year to 2.6 million vehicles.
The group was one of the first global car makers to spot the possibilities that China had to offer, and it set up car production facilities in China during the 1980s. For many years, its Santanas were the desired car of choice in China.
“The Foshan branch will offer 6,500 skilled jobs in the first phase, cultivate new talents and improve infrastructure for a more prosperous, more innovative, and more sustainable auto industry in south China,” Volkswagen’s China chief executive Jochem Heizmann said in a statement.
Volkswagen will start producing the Audi A3 hatchback early next year at the new plant.