Wuhan is the capital of Hubei province in Central China. Over the past decade, Wuhan has become the most affluent provincial capital among China’s six central provinces. The city is now the economic, financial, trading, science, and information exchange hub of central China. The city is also an education center in the region with 85 higher educational institutions, including Wuhan University and Huazhong University of Science and Technology. Wuhan is a major national logistics hub in Central China – it has an established railway network, roads and expressways that connect the north-south and east-west traffic arteries (four trunk railway lines and six national expressways) and links the rivers with the sea. The Wuhan Tianhe International Airport connects Wuhan with major world cities, offering regular domestic and international flights. Historically, Wuhan has been one of China’s most important inland river harbors, its role in domestic transportation lending it the title of “Chicago of China”.
Located at the confluence of the Yangtze and Han rivers in the eastern Jianghan plain, it occupies an area of 3279 square miles. Wuhan is renowned in China as the “Riverside City” or “Water City” for its many lakes and pools, along with two main rivers, covering a total water area of 844.4 square miles. Its name comes from ‘the three towns of Wuhan’ – Wuchang, Hankou, and Hanyang. Present day Wuhan has a total population of 10.34 million people living across 13 districts.
In 2014, Wuhan had a GDP of US $153.14 billion (RMB 10006.9 billion) at a year on year growth of 9.7 percent – ranking it eighth among mainland cities based on GDP. The same year saw Wuhan’s per capita income reach US $14,904 (RMB 98,000), imports US $12,638 million, and exports amount to US $13,791 million.
Wuhan is an old heavy industrial base in Central China. In 2014, the city’s GDP was mainly divided between the established industrial sector (47.5 percent) and a booming services sector (49 percent). Pillar industries in Wuhan include automobile and auto parts, iron and steel, new pharmaceuticals, biology engineering, new materials industry, opto-electronics, environmental protection, renewable energy and energy efficient technology as well as research and development in telecommunications, laser technology, and microelectronics.
Aside from these industries, Wuhan has the second-largest concentration of metallurgical facilities in China. The city is also a center for the production of heavy machinery, glass, cement, fertilizer, textiles, cigarettes, food processing, home appliances, electronics, construction materials, packaging and printing equipment. The dominant service sector is based in the city’s retail and distribution industry and the tourism and hospitality industry. As one of the most ancient and civilized metropolitan cities in China, Wuhan has several tourist attractions – Yellow Crane Tower, Baotong Zenist Temple, Guiyuan Zenist Temple and the Hubei Museum. The city’s tourism industry earnings were US $28.9 billion (RMB 190 billion) in 2014.
Below are sectors of particular interest to American exporters.
Renewable Energy and Energy Efficient Technology
China has been rapidly increasing its focus on clean tech and renewable energy technologies, which is represented in Wuhan’s industrial mix. This presents key business opportunities in the export of components, innovative solutions, and advanced equipment and technologies. State media reports have published the government’s intent to spend US $738 billion on a ten-year energy plan that will invest in nuclear, solar, wind, and other non-fossil fuel energy sources. Further, investment and development plans project China’s attempts to secure at least 15 percent of all energy from renewable sources by 2020.
China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection has injected fresh impetus into the country’s wastewater treatment and solid waste management. Wuhan has wastewater treatment facilities in its industrial zones and presents an important emerging market. The city is rich in fresh-water bodies and the local government has backed the improvement of wastewater and urban sewage treatment facilities, presenting additional export opportunities for U.S. suppliers.
Machines, Engines, Pumps
Wuhan is a traditional industrial base in Central China and provides ample scope for U.S. suppliers of equipment and parts directed at its diverse array of light and heavy manufacturing industries. Competition in this market is fierce, especially in Wuhan, which is expanding its infrastructural base and modernizing industries. This segment is a top performer for American exports and earned US $219.8 billion (13.6 percent of total exports) in 2014.
Retail is a pillar services industry in Wuhan (responsible for 37 percent of Hubei’s retail sales in 2014). The government’s latest attempts to boost consumption have meant that consumer market shares in second-tier cities such as Wuhan are growing faster relative to tier-one cities, as indicated in the data on sales across the board. Rising per capita disposable income has directly translated into rising per capita expenditure. Consumption habits of Wuhan’s residents have diversified as major brands are accessible in the shopping malls and department stores.
Statistical research shows that key consumer groups with regards to brand consciousness and brand loyalty are government employees, white-collar workers, corporate elites, teachers, and university and research institute staff members in the 25-45 years age bracket . Fast fashion and affordable luxury have also become mainstream. This vibrancy in the retail market provides ample opportunities for American exporters – especially given Wuhan’s positioning as a regional distribution center and gateway to the rest of central China.
Wuhan Donghu New Technology Development Zone
A national level high-tech development zone, the Donghu New Technology Development Zone’s core industries are optical-electronics, telecommunications, and equipment manufacturing. The Wuhan Optical Valley (Guanggu) Software Park is also located in the zone, which is focused on software outsourcing. Other industries present include electronics and laser technology. Key firms include Changfei Fiber-optical Cables (the largest fiber-optical cable maker in China), Fenghuo Telecommunications, HUST Technologies and Chutian Laser.
Wuhan East Lake High-Tech Development Zone (ELHTZ)
This is a state-level zone and its target industries include photovoltaic products, environmental protection, renewable energy and energy efficient technology, software development, bioengineering and medicine, modern equipment manufacturing, and new materials. The zone also hosts the Biolake industry base in the Optics Valley, which has six parks including the Bio-innovation Park, Bio-pharma Park, Bio-agriculture Park, Bio-manufacturing Park, Medical Device Park and Medical Health Park.
Wuhan Economic and Technological Development Zone
This is a national level industrial zone, established in 1993, that encourages the following manufacturing segments – automobile production and assembly, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, chemicals production and processing, food and beverage processing, heavy industry, and telecommunications equipment.
U.S. Commercial Service - Wuhan
New World International Trade Tower I,
No. 568, Jianshe Avenue, Hankou, Wuhan 430022, China
Shanghai 200040, China
Tel: (86-27) 8555-7791
Fax: (86-27) 8555-7761
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