BEIJING, July 28 (Xinhua) -- Thai conglomerate Charoen Pokphand (CP) Group is upbeat about the Chinese economy as the country is transforming from a global manufacturing hub into the world's market, said Group Senior Vice Chairman Yang Xiaoping.
"Demand has become the vital element for the markets of the future," Yang told Xinhua in an interview. "China will turn into the world's largest market in the future as its middle-income group has exceeded 400 million and continues to grow."
A typical example of the marked expansion of the Chinese market is CP Group's factory in Qingdao, eastern China's Shandong Province, which used to export nearly all its products to Europe, the United States and Japan just 40 years ago.
"Now 70 percent of the products are sold in China, while exports account for only 30 percent of the total output," Yang said.
As the first foreign company entering China after the country adopted an opening-up policy in the 1970s, CP Group has benefited from the expansion of the Chinese market, establishing over 400 enterprises in various sectors and generating a yearly sales volume of nearly 130 billion yuan (about 19 billion U.S. dollars).
Yang applauded China's opening-up and encouraged the country to continue opening up its market to the world.
Over 60,000 overseas companies were newly established in China last year, surging 69.8 percent year on year, data from the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) showed.
Chinese authorities have also unveiled a raft of measures to attract foreign investors including shortened negative lists for foreign investment market access, a new industry catalogue as well as a slew of new policies to further open up its financial markets.
Yang said CP Group has confidence in the potential of the Chinese market and is committed to upgrading production and sales models to better cater to the needs of Chinese consumers.
Many measures and programs have been launched by the group to satisfy consumers' rising demand for healthy food and convenient catering services, including developing new technologies for food storage and delivery, and opening stores integrating the functions of restaurants, convenience stores and fresh produce stores.
Yang said the group is also strengthening cooperation with Chinese businesses in exploring overseas markets as Chinese enterprises are gradually transitioning from the world's manufacturers into global investors.
The country's outbound direct investment (ODI) rose 4.2 percent year on year to 129.83 billion U.S. dollars in 2018, according to the MOC.
China ranked as Thailand's third-largest investor last year, following the United States and Japan, and bilateral trade reached over 80.14 billion U.S. dollars, rising 8.7 percent year on year, official data showed.
CP Group has cooperated with Chinese automaker SAIC Motor in car manufacturing, establishing a sales network of 110 dealers in Thailand and producing 100,000 vehicles per year. It has also established a partnership with China Mobile in the Thai telecommunication industry.
(Li Xiangru and Hu Wenjia contributed to the story)