On March 19, 2012, we took a 30 minute bullet train ride to Tianjin. TEDA is about 38 km away from Tianjin downtown. It is considered an important part of the Tianjin Binhai New Area.
TEDA stands for “Tianjin Economic-Technological Development area.” It was established in 1984. TEDA is divided into 3 industrial parks: TEDA industrial park, Yet–sen Scientific and Industrial Park, and Microelectronic Industrial Park.
We were met by Jianning Li (representative for Chicago), Peidong Lin (representative for Dallas), and Yu Xiaoran (project manager for section of Europe and America).
Before TEDA was marked for development, the area was used to harvest sea salt. Most of the development has taken place in last 30 years. Motorola was the first company to set up a factory in this area. By the end of the year 2010, about 4870 foreign funded enterprises from 74 countries were represented. In the first 10 years there was 25% growth in GDP. In recent years growth has slowed down as the cost of doing business in TEDA has increased. As of the end of 2010, total investment in this area has been over $62.2 Billion. Progress of TEDA has been boosted by its superior geographic location. Its closeness to Tianjin Port allows it to have access to over 400 ports in 180 countries worldwide. Also, to the west is the Tianjin Binhai International airport, which is a major airport for the transportation of cargo and passengers.
Some of the major companies that have invested in this area include Samsung, Honeywell, Toyota, GlaxoSmithKline, Coca- Cola, KYOCERA Solar energy, and TOHO Lead Recycling. It was interesting that when Toyota set up manufacturing in TEDA, its numerous suppliers followed it to the area.
To promote TEDA the organization has set up offices in 9 locations around the world. In order to attract investors, TEDA provides “one stop “service for investment policy consulting and procedure consulting to projects approval. I was not expecting the transparency and fairness in legal system, which TEDA promotes.
To support the investing companies and to attract prospective employees, TEDA has constructed schools, university, childcare centers. Tianjin has 55 higher education institutes, from where 60,000 students graduate every year. TEDA has partnered with various colleges and technical vocation schools across China to build adequate Human Resource pool.
What struck me was the amount of effort Chinese government was putting in to attract foreign investment. Tianjin looked like a busy city with heavy traffic. Apparently the infrastructure is not able to keep up with the development.
Another thing, which was striking, was the smog and the high level of pollution in air and water. TEDA officials commented that their goal in near future was to reduce carbon emissions. To this end they are working with different international companies to promote environmental sustainability. They are making efforts to create a sustainable environment, but the effects are not yet apparent.
Overall, I felt that China has made deliberate efforts to promote economic growth through financial and economic support and the lessons learned in areas like TEDA are being applied to develop new areas.