GBA in 2024: Foreign investment destination profile

An AI-generated illustration that encapsulates the essence of the GBA as a beacon of foreign investment in 2024


The Greater Bay Area (GBA) in China, encompassing nine cities in Guangdong province along with Hong Kong and Macau, has emerged as a significant investment destination, known for its technological innovation, finance, and trade. This region’s appeal to foreign investors is bolstered by its strategic location in Asia, supportive government policies, and robust economic growth. Advanced manufacturing, leveraging information, automation, computation, software, sensing, and networking, stands out as a key area with substantial potential for investment. This shift towards high-tech production signifies China’s evolving industrial base, moving away from traditional low-cost manufacturing towards more sophisticated, technology-driven processes.

The GBA’s strategic position, close to major international markets, alongside its strong industrial foundation, makes it a prime location for companies looking to establish or expand their manufacturing operations. The Chinese government’s active promotion of advanced manufacturing, particularly in robotics, electric vehicles, and high-tech materials, underscores the region’s commitment to innovation and technological advancement. This focus is further exemplified by initiatives like the 14th Five-Year Plan, which aims to foster the growth of the manufacturing sector, according to a recent report by consulting firm Acclime, specialized on greater China.

Financial services and technology are other domains where the GBA excels, with Hong Kong maintaining its role as a global financial hub and Shenzhen emerging as a leading center for technology and innovation. The blend of finance and technology in the GBA creates opportunities for investment in digital banking, blockchain, and financial infrastructure development. Shenzhen, often likened to China’s Silicon Valley, plays a pivotal role in the region’s technology landscape, attracting global tech giants and startups alike.

Real estate and infrastructure development within the GBA also offer promising investment prospects. Despite challenges in the real estate sector, it remains a fundamental part of the economy. Infrastructure projects, including high-speed railways, airports, and cross-border connectivity initiatives, provide opportunities for foreign investment in the region’s transportation and logistics networks. The ongoing demand for commercial and residential properties, fueled by urbanization and economic growth, highlights the sector’s potential for foreign capital.

The GBA’s integration with global markets and its role as a driver of China’s economic growth enhance its attractiveness as an investment destination. The Chinese government’s dedication to transforming the region into an economic powerhouse, through preferential tax treatments and improved market access, further boosts its appeal. The signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) has also played a significant role in supporting China’s economy and expanding trade with other signatory countries.

Infrastructure and connectivity initiatives, such as the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge and the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link, have significantly improved regional integration. Future projects aim to enhance intercity connectivity and facilitate economic integration, creating a conducive environment for foreign investment across multiple industries.

Economic projections for the GBA are optimistic, with a predicted 5% GDP growth in 2024. Factors such as urbanization, technological innovation, and inter-city collaboration are expected to drive robust growth, positioning the GBA as a premier investment destination. Guangdong’s status as China’s wealthiest province underscores the region’s economic potential.

According to the latest data available, the utilized Foreign Direct Investment in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area amounted to USD165.85 billion in 2022. This figure covers the entire region, encompassing all the cities within the GBA, indicating a substantial level of FDI in the area.

Therefore, according to Acclime’s report, the GBA presents a compelling case for foreign investment, “offering a fertile ground for businesses and investors seeking to capitalize on the region’s dynamic economic prospects.”

Industrial complementary integration and development

In recent years, Guangdong has continuously improved its market-oriented and law-based international business environment, and joined hands with Hong Kong and Macau to build the GBA into a world-class Bay Area, according to the “2024 Special Report on the State of Business in South China” released by AmCham South China this week.

Its series of efforts have also been recognized by foreign companies investing in this region. 75% of the companies surveyed consider the overall business environment in South China as “excellent” or “good”, the report claims.

Based on the analysis in the report, more than half of the companies consider the growing local market as the primary reason for establishing a presence in South China, followed by “transportation and logistics advantages” and “proximity to Hong Kong and Macau special administrative regions and Taiwan Province.”

“The GBA is the future of China’s economy with promising prospects. Major cities in the GBA have now been able to enjoy complementary advantages,” Harley Seyedin, President of the AmCham South China said.

William Huang, EY China South Managing Partner, told GDToday that compared with the New York Bay Area, San Francisco Bay Area, and Tokyo Bay Area, the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area features the most remarkable advantages in industrial complementary integration and development. In recent years, with the construction of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong-Macao Sci-tech Innovation Corridor, the high-end elements of innovation continue to gather, and the integration of industry, university, and research is also constantly strengthening. Cities such as Dongguan and Foshan are developing intelligent manufacturing, enabling the manufacturing industry in this region to gradually realize overall transformation and upgrading. MDT/Agencies

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