Leaders of the Zhangjiagang Economic Development Zone near Shanghai, China, believe Georgia manufacturers would be good candidates for investing there, according to Bernard Vanderlande, consultant with APCO Worldwide public affairs firm who helped bring a trade mission here last week.

Mr. Vanderlande, an Atlanta native who now works for APCO in Shanghai, was part of a 14-person delegation from Zhangjiagang that visited Atlanta to meet with potential investors and city and state officials to promote the municipality as an export processing location.

“The group wanted to visit Atlanta because it is in one of the fastest-growing regions in the country, and they see the potential for developing relationships in light manufacturing,” Mr. Vanderlande told GlobalAtlanta during the delegation’s visit to City Hall.

The group, led by the economic zone’s director, Pang Weizhong, and APCO Senior Counselor and Former U.S. Ambassador to China Jim Sasser, met with Atlanta officials to express interest in attracting Georgia companies to Zhangjiagang.

The city’s economic zone is an area of 22 square miles that hosts more than 1,500 companies, including some 300 foreign firms, that have invested in facilities in the zone’s creative industry section, hi-tech park, machinery industry zone or textile cluster.

There are some 1,300 foreign companies with $6.5 billion in registered capital in the city of Zhangjiagang, where the economic zone is located. The economic development zone has $1.8 billion in foreign direct investment.

Mr. Pang said through an interpreter that 40 percent of his city’s economy is based on manufacturing. Machinery and textiles manufacturers are the most prominent companies in the economic zone, and Zhangjiagang is known for its cotton and wool spinning, with more than 700 textile companies located there.

The municipality has various tax incentives for foreign investors, including value added tax exemptions, corporate income tax of 15 percent for high-tech companies and tax deduction or refund for companies investing in Chinese government-encouraged industries or projects.

During the meeting in Atlanta on May 30, Mr. Sasser recommended to Charles Whatley, commerce and entrepreneurship director of the Atlanta Development Authority, that Atlanta companies look to the Zhanjiagang economic zone for opportunities.

Mr. Pang invited an Atlanta delegation to visit Zhanjiagang to explore the possibilities for economic cooperation.

The visit to Atlanta was a first for the Zhangjiagang group, which went to Chicago before coming here. “It says a lot about Atlanta that they put it on par with cities like Chicago and came here rather than New York,” Mr. Vanderlande said.

Mr. Vanderlande works with a division of APCO in China that provides investment consulting, government relations and strategic communication services for companies entering the China market. He said he focuses on investment promotion and “issues management” for international clients.

APCO is headquartered in Washington and has investment and government relations consultancy offices in Beijing, Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Shanghai in China, plus offices in Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East.

The firm was recently awarded for its public affairs work on UAL Corp.’s successful lobbying campaign for a United Airlines direct route between Beijing and Washington.

Story Contacts, Links and Related Stories
APCO Worldwide – James Robinson, senior associate with APCO in New York, (212) 300-1802