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Harbin, the provincial capital of Heilongjiang, is a manufacturing hub strategically located in the center of Northeast Asia. The largest metropolis of the province, Harbin serves as an important connecting point for Sino-Russian trade, which has been growing in recent years following Russia’s accession to the WTO. Harbin already has nine air routes linking it with major urban areas in Russia.

Since 1990, Harbin has annually hosted the “Harbin International Economic and Trade Fair,” enhancing its position as an economic and trading center in the region. This trade fair helps the city develop foreign trade and economic & technological cooperation with many countries throughout the world, including a number of US companies. A new high-speed rail link between Harbin and Dalian also cuts travel time to four hours and serves as an important connector between Harbin and the rest of Northeast China, providing Harbin with greater access to global markets.

While Harbin’s economic growth has proceeded more slowly than most major Northeastern cities, this means that opportunities for development in Harbin are plentiful. Harbin’s GDP reached $80 million USD in 2013. In addition, the total value of imports by the end of 2012 was $5.33 million USD, making it an excellent market for potential future growth. In 2013, FDI in Harbin was $2,260 million USD.

Harbin’s Leading Industries

Harbin’s economy is centered on four primary industries: equipment manufacturing, food-processing, petrochemicals, and pharmaceuticals. These industries comprise 83% of the city’s industrial value-added output. Major recent projects in the city have occurred in the following industries:

  • Aerospace and Aviation
  • Automotive
  • Building Materials
  • Energy
  • Food and Beverage
  • Healthcare/Medical
  • Machinery and Equipment
  • Metals
  • Paper and Packaging
  • Property and Construction
  • Renewable Energy
  • Telecoms and Technology
  • Tourism and Hospitality

Harbin’s heavy industrial manufacturing capacity includes machine building, power generators, minivans, light aircraft, light alloy materials, petrochemicals, and pharmaceuticals. In recent years, the city has increased its production of biotech, advanced materials, and information technology. Harbin is working on a “cloud computing valley,” which has already attracted investments from IBM and Intel in conjunction with China Mobile. Tata Information Technology from India is also investing in Harbin.

Harbin’s status as an economic hub is bolstered by the large number of Fortune 500 enterprises present in the city, many of which are US firms. For example, General Electric, the world’s second largest manufacturer of wind turbines has teamed up with China’s Harbin Power to manufacture and supply wind turbines for domestic use in China. The wind turbine market in China is a $13 billion dollar industry and US companies like GE are setting up joint ventures in the Northeast, to take advantage of the region’s industrial capabilities. Besides the market for alternative energy, other US industries are also well represented. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, General Motors Corporation has recently completed a factory in Harbin that produces pick-up vehicles and trucks. Given that these recent forays by US firms into the Northeast region of China have been met with success, Harbin presents a promising market for US exporters.

Harbin’s nutrient rich fertile soil called “black earth” makes it extremely valuable for cultivating food and other textile-related crops. Harbin is now a major base for production of commodity grain and an ideal place for setting up agricultural businesses. The city’s workforce is also widely regarded as being among the most academically, scientifically and technologically competent in China. This makes it an excellent venue to leverage low-cost science and engineering talent for R&D. Two major agricultural machinery companies, CNH Global and John Deere, both have equipment production plants in Harbin. Food processing also contributes to Harbin’s economy, particularly dairy management and beer production.

Best prospects exist in the automotive industry, pharmaceuticals, food-processing, and electronics, as these are sectors of investment specifically sought by the city government. Other emerging sectors are logistics and high and new technology products. There has also been recent strong growth in tourism and hospitality to meet growing retail demand as a result of rising disposable income in Harbin. The local government is currently focused on improving infrastructure and industrial production, working on establishing a new industrial city and a science and technology park. Harbin is also well-placed geographically to tap mineral resources abundant in Heilongjiang and is a welcome location for investments in metallurgy.

Development Zones and Ports

Harbin Economic and Technological Development Zone

Harbin High and New Technological Development Zone

Harbin Advertising Industry Park

Harbin Port

  • One of only 8 inland ports in China and the largest in Northeast China
  • Only inland open port in China that has customs officials capable of handling import and export procedures and declaration of goods imported
  • China’s gateway to Russian trade

Harbin Statistics


GDP (billion RMB)

GDP growth rate

Population (million)

Per Capita GDP (RMB)

Per Capita Disposable Income (RMB)

Foreign Trade (million USD)

Total Imports (million USD)

Total Exports (million USD)




























Source: Provincial and City level Economic and Societal Development Statistical Announcements (国民经济和社会发展统计公报); National Bureau of Statistics of China (中华人民共和国国家统计局); (中国统计信息网)

United States Foreign Commercial Service, Northeast China

The mission of our office is to assist American businesses enter and succeed in the Northeast China market. Our jurisdiction covers the provinces of Liaoning, Jilin, and Heilongjiang, together representing the fastest growing region of mainland China, with a population of 110 million and a land area of 800k square kilometers.

Please contact our office and let our Commercial Officer and team of Commercial Specialists help your business enter and succeed in Northeast China!

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