Five sectors that are attracting foreign investment in China



Foreign investment has always been a significant contributor to China's economic growth and development. As China continues to open its doors to the global market, some sectors have become particularly attractive to foreign investors while others have significantly reduced previous access barriers. This article examines the sectors that are attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) in China.


The FMCG industry continues to flourish through e-commerce 

China's rapid technological advancements and culture of innovation in e-commerce have created unprecedented opportunities for international companies in the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) industry to engage with China’s vast consumer base. The disruptions caused by Covid-related restrictions on traditional retail channels, coupled with the surge in popularity of livestreaming during the pandemic, have enticed more multinational corporations to capitalise on China's consumer market through online platforms. These typically involve Tmall,, Pingduoduo, Xiaohongshu, and Douyin.

Given the pivotal role of e-commerce and platform-based commerce in driving the country’s economic expansion, overseas investors recognise e-commerce as a crucial gateway to access China's dynamic consumer landscape. The main areas of interest for FDI in China's FMCG sector include food and beverage with a particular focus on food supplements, personal care products, pet care, household essentials, and cosmetics/skincare items.


Hydrogen and cleantech energy players are key components in China's sustainable future

As China progresses towards a more sustainable and eco-friendly development path, global firms are seeking potential investments that align with the country’s green development drive. March 2022 marked the issuance of the first long-term plan to develop a national hydrogen industry by 2035 with guidelines on standards for producing, storing, transporting and using hydrogen released one year later in August 2023.

Similarly to what happened with other green energy sectors in the past (for example solar panels and technologies), China’s commitment to peak carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060. The Chinese government is already implementing attractive policies and financial incentives to encourage the adoption of green energy and support more involvement of foreign-invested enterprises in green certificate trading and cross-provincial green power transactions. The sectors related to green development and low-carbon industries such as hydrogen technologies carbonization, are already part of the highly encouraged industries for foreign investment. 


The new era of automation, high-tech and advanced manufacturing

China’s manufacturing sector actively fosters collaboration and knowledge exchange with foreign industry leaders, focusing on the integration of cutting-edge technologies in automated manufacturing process. Leveraging its world-class manufacturing infrastructure and highly skilled workforce, China stands out as a preferred destination for international corporations to establish production plants and facilities.

The “Made in China 2025” initiative, a strategic national plan aimed at transforming traditional low-cost manufacturing into high-value added industries, highlights priorities such as innovation, quality enhancement, sustainable practices and operational efficiency. As evidence of this push, China’s Ministry of Commerce recently announced a new batch of flagship foreign investment projects worth more than USD 15 billion in sectors ranging from automotive and robotics to power and energy storage, biomedicals and new materials. Furthermore, a shortened Negative List with restrictions on manufacturing demonstrates China’s continued willingness and ongoing efforts to attract foreign investment and stimulate economic growth.


Financial services, insurance and investment products in high demand

China’s overall banking, financial services and insurance sector has experienced significant growth in FDI in recent years. As of 2023’s end, there were 888 business branches of foreign-funded banks and 137 between business branches and representative offices opened by overseas insurance institutions. The country’s share of global growth and its burgeoning middle class have been the main engines in creating local champions. High-net worth individuals seek for a wider access to investment products, protection coverage and warranties in one of the most dynamic markets in Asia. 

Foreign-run institutions are now able to hold 100% ownership of their banking and insurance Chinese subsidiaries, attracting new players to enter the local financial arena and existing investors to buyout their local partnerships and joint ventures. The expertise of foreign players in specialized products such as green and sustainable finance and green bonds issuance is highly sought after and welcome in contributing to Shanghai’s status as a leading international financial hub by 2025.  


Building world-class healthcare and R&D facilities

Due to its aging population and the growing focus on access to high-level treatments and wellbeing, international providers of healthcare technologies, pharmaceuticals and medical devices are targeting China with ambitious plans. The Chinese government has been implementing reforms with the goal of enhancing its healthcare system, supporting the research of new drugs and biotech innovation. This has created an appealing environment for international businesses to offer expertise in the drive to improve the population’s health outcomes. 

Thanks to their extensive and historical presence in China’s pharmaceutical and biotech sector, global players have continuously invested in research and development facilities, spurred the local M&A scene with mutual projects culminating in acquisitions and developed local distribution channels. China has become a leading market for the experimentation phase of some of the most innovative products targeting cancers and weight-loss treatments due to its access to wider pools for rare disease and new drugs tests. In the meantime, Chinese biotech and genetic research startups and forging ahead by venturing overseas to gain market access and wider recognition for their homegrown discoveries. As a result of their successful overseas collaborations, foreign partners will be encouraged to engage with Chinese businesses in the Chinese market.



In conclusion, China's technology achievements, its dedication to sustainability and economic reforms have encouraged foreign investment in several areas. The second-largest economy in the world offers foreign investors a wide range of opportunities to explore, from the traditional industries, such as retail and wholesale, to the emerging sectors like green energy, advanced manufacturing, technology and innovation. 

When investing in China, it is crucial to consider the regulatory environment. It is also important to consider the potential impact of global supply chain disruptions due to the geopolitical factors and the status quo of the global market on your business plan. While there are plenty of opportunities, businesses should carefully navigate the regulatory environment and keep up with the latest policy and changes to make wise and long-term investment decisions. Foreign businesses should conduct thorough research before entering the market, especially for the first time. Partnering with an experienced and trusted partner, such as a professional service provider, tax advisor and accounting expert, can streamline the process of exploration, saving time and effort. 


Corporate services

Speak to our experts today

Explore how our corporate services can elevate your business needs