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Foreign Investment Law encourages future growth: Merck executives

Merck believes globalization and free trade are the essence and the fuel of a company that is truly global. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

The newly-approved Foreign Investment Law, the promotion of free trade, further reform and opening up in China have benefited not only foreign investors, but provided a better business environment for all players in this country, said top executives of German pharmaceutical giant Merck during a media interview at the just-ended Boao Forum for Asia in Boao, South China's Hainan province.

As a pharmaceutical, chemical and life sciences conglomerate, it is always important for Merck Group to have clear and transparent pharmaceutical structures, and the Foreign Investment Law gives the company more transparency and a much more reliable framework, especially on intellectual property rights, said Merck executive board member Kai Beckmann.

"There is a clear focus on the right rules that we have to have, and we appreciate the progress with the law," he said, adding that it is what international companies really appreciate, since it gives them structure and predictability in the operating environment in China.

"The Foreign Investment Law sounds like it's just for foreigners, but frankly it's for everybody," said Allan Gabor, president of Merck China, adding that the law lifts the whole operating environment by giving Merck a lot of encouragement, because many of the investments the company makes today are things that will come five and 10 years into the future.

Beckmann believes globalization and free trade are the essence and the fuel of a company that is truly global, and the 350-year-old company is very strongly committed to it.
"Every attempt to improve free trade is highly appreciated by us," he said.

As a long-term resident in China, Gabor has experienced part of the 40 years of reform and opening up, and believes the changes that have occurred in China over the years are really dramatic in terms of improving the quality of life and healthcare.

"The economic status of the average Chinese person has improved dramatically…Things have moved in a very good way," he added.

Gabor said China for Merck is not only a big market, but serves to influence the company's global strategies. Merck China's business has become the second-largest for Merck globally, and the company aims to double its business in China in the next five years.

"The technology trends that are emerging from China are shaping global trends," he added.

As China has provided a clear policy of openness, transparency and reliability – a clear understanding of how the company can ensure sustainable investments over a long period of time – Merck has initiated more innovation hubs in China, Beckmann said. There will be more to come, in recognition of the innovative environment here that is really moving in a positive direction.

"We think it's great that Hainan has this free trade zone that has enabled innovative medicines to get a fast channel into China," Gabor said, adding that Merck is trying to work with Boao's Super Hospital in therapy areas like oncology and infertility, as well as chronic care disease.

Beckmann also took the Greater Bay Area as an example, describing it as a very important region, specifically for the electronics industry.

"We have very important partners and customers in that region, so it was quite natural for us to move with our innovation hub concept into the Greater Bay Area," he said, adding that the company is building its digital initiatives with local partners, such as Alibaba Health and Tencent.

Responsible editor: 胥圣蘭
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