There was no doubt in Davos that the appearance of Chinese president Xi Jinping yesterday electrified the atmosphere. President Xi’s speech was an ardent defence of globalisation and free trade. I found myself nodding to much what he said, as he struck a reassuring note in this climate of uncertainty. Xi gave a big ‘no’ to protectionism and argued that every nation has the right of development.
The message was clear: investment will continue to flow and the global economy will continue to grow, driven by domestic consumption. President Xi said that his country’s outbound investment over the next year years is expected to reach US$750 billion.
With this in mind, I’m certain Chinese corporates will continue to expand their businesses overseas, something that bodes well for those of us in the real estate business. Already Alibaba’s Jack Ma has promised to create 1 million jobs in the United States after his meeting with President-elect Trump last week. Chinese glass maker, Fuyao Glass, opened the world’s largest glass fabrication plant in Ohio, United States, last October. And Huawei made a splash a few years ago when it opened its Global Finance Centre of Excellence in the United Kingdom.
It’s not just Chinese companies. Other Asian businesses are going global or expanding regionally. Much has been said about Vietnam’s momentum – both Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi made it to the Top 10 of JLL’s City Momentum Index, which was released in conjunction with WEF. I read recently that Vinamilk, Vietnam’s largest dairy producer, is eyeing expansion in Thailand and Myanmar after getting a facility in Cambodia.
And, as I’m having chats with top global executives in between the sessions, I keep hearing that globalization is here to stay. That shows the commitment of the most influential leaders to keep the world connected even in the face of challenges.