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OQ to further tap China's growth bonus

By LIU ZHIHUA China Daily Updated: 2023-04-24
Hilal Al Kharusi, chief executive for commercial and downstream, OQ. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

Energy giant bullish on country on back of wider market access, green transition

Despite various challenges, China's stable economic growth has boosted the confidence of foreign investors, said a senior executive from OQ, an Oman-headquartered global integrated energy company.

OQ is ready to tap growth opportunities arising from China's increasing market openness and green development, said Hilal Al Kharusi, chief executive for commercial and downstream at the energy giant, during an exclusive interview with China Daily.

The company officially entered China in 2010 and currently operates in 17 countries and regions around the world, with its polymers and chemical products sold in more than 85 countries.

"China has published statistical data and growth target that reflect the strong signal that its economy is recovering very fast and therefore is creating huge opportunities for companies like OQ across the globe," Kharusi said.

"A thriving economic environment and improving business policy would certainly empower us to be well-positioned in the China market in the coming years," he added.

The latest data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed that China's economy expanded by 4.5 percent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2023, versus 2.9 percent in the last quarter of 2022, posting a steady economic rebound.

The country's first-quarter GDP came in at around 28.5 trillion yuan ($4.11 trillion), up 2.2 percent on a quarterly basis, the NBS said.

Kharusi said the company expects to see growth across its business units including polymer, chemicals and trade in China. It also attaches great importance to enhancing local product research and development while stimulating more demand for its products in the local market.

It also sees opportunities to expand production capacity in China as the country is one of the largest markets for its products.

The company is just one example showing that foreign investors are firmly confident in their development prospects in China, as the Chinese economy looks set for a recovery in 2023 against the background of a slowing global economy and subdued international investor sentiment.

According to the Ministry of Commerce, foreign direct investment in the Chinese mainland expanded 4.9 percent year-on-year to 408.45 billion yuan during the first quarter. Newly established foreign enterprises exceeded 10,000, up 25.5 percent on a yearly basis during the period.

In particular, FDI in high-tech industries surged 18 percent from a year ago to 156.71 billion yuan.

China's drive to fulfill its "dual carbon" goals will not only position the country as an investment hub for relevant fields but also advocate for green products, the executive said.

OQ has already embarked on decarbonization efforts. Many partnership projects are now under development, and when ready, will generate up to 30 gigawatts of renewable energy.

The company also plans to expand investments in the China market as policy signals from the country have "given us encouragement to proceed with our plans", Kharusi said.

It will invest to leverage digital transformation to empower Chinese customer services and has launched a digital platform where customers can order products online and finalize their purchases seamlessly.

It has also expanded its team and has been working with four ports in China, which include Ningbo, Zhejiang province and Shanghai, to shorten the transportation time for products from Oman to China.

Currently, the company depends on multiple shipping lines to export products to China, with an average transit time of 18 to 24 days, depending on the port of entry.