China’s opening up brings substantial opportunities for transnational enterprises: UPS

A UPS employee delivers packages in Beijing [Photo from UPS]

The past 40 years of China’s reform and opening up have brought about substantial opportunities for transnational enterprises, said Harld Peters, president of UPS China, during an interview with People’s Daily.

Atlanta-based UPS, with a history of over 100 years, is one of the largest package delivery companies in the world.

Peters recalled that when the company entered China three decades ago, the Pudong district of Shanghai was merely farmland. However, today, as an international transfer center of UPS, Putong sees an economic total 100 times that of 30 years ago.

Peters told People’s Daily that logistics is the new engine driving economic development, and the business of UPS over the past 30 years has always followed the economic growth of China.

According to Peters, UPS currently has almost 6,000 employees and 228 business facilities in China, and has established a logistics network covering air, land and marine transportation. 208 company flights are traveling between China and the rest of the world each week, he added.

The Belt and Road Initiative and China’s policy to expand openness strengthened the company’s conviction to develop in China. Ross McCullough, president of UPS Asia Pacific Region, said that China’s commitment would further promote sustainable economic globalization, and the expansion of investment in China was an active response to the country’s commitment.

In March 2017, full container load (FCL) and less than container load (LCL) services of UPS from China to Europe, which initially covered Zhengzhou, Chengdu, Lodz and Hamburg, expanded its coverage to six more regions, including Changsha, Chongqing, Suzhou, Wuhan, Duisburg and Warsaw.

“The expansion of multimodal transport services between China and Europe offers more choice to customers on the world’s largest trade route,” said Gu Zhenzhong, vice-president of China Freight Forwarding at UPS China.

This October, UPS further expanded investment in China to enlarge its logistics network. It improved its services in eight Chinese cities including Zhongshan, Zhuhai and Jiangmen, to better support local manufacturing and export enterprises. Peters said the company has faith that the Chinese market would create an opportunity for long-term growth and UPS will continue investing in the country.

The rapid development of China’s logistics industry surprised Peters. In the first 11 months of 2017, the total value of the logistics industry reached 229.9 trillion yuan, growing 6.7 percent year-on-year. The number is expected to hit 280 trillion this year. 123 million parcels are now being delivered in China every day, a figure that will reach 200 million by 2019.

Peters told People’s Daily that China is a market that worships entrepreneurship where small and medium-sized enterprises can grow into transnational corporations in only 10 to 15 years, when it would typically take 50 to 100 years in other countries.

China’s attitude to actively embrace new technologies also impressed the head of UPS China. He noted that China is in a leading position regarding the application of new logistics technologies. Last year, UPS China reached an agreement with China’s logistics company SF to develop new technologies and models together.

Currently, UPS is making significant efforts to apply drones and artificial intelligence in the logistics sector, Peters introduced.

Peters was born in the Netherlands, and China is the fourth country in which he has worked. He told People’s Daily that the population of Shanghai surpasses that of the Netherlands, but the city is still well managed and safe thanks to the excellent municipal planning.

He said the experience of ordering dinner 50 minutes before leaving work every day and seeing the food as he arrives home is beyond imagination in Europe.

What also makes him excited is the ongoing structural reform in China, such as the one-stop service recently adopted by customs. Many measures to improve the business environment for foreign enterprises have also been taken by the Shanghai government, which will benefit logistics and international companies.

Peters found that various levels of the Chinese government are willing to learn and assist enterprises to improve the business environment. He said that both life and work in China are getting more convenient, believing that China’s business environment will be more favorable to long-term investment as the country further improves its infrastructure, policies and administrative efficiency.