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Nanjing, the capital of Jiangsu province, has emerged as eastern China’s second largest commercial center and a leader for education, research, transportation and tourism in the country. With its large consumer market the city boasts a strong purchasing power.

Located on the Yangtze River Delta, the city has five state-level development zones, eight provincial-level development zones and multiple industrial parks.

With a total GDP in 2014 was US $141.7 billion, the city’s per capita GDP stood at RMB 114,795 (US $17,943). In 2013, Nanjing’s foreign trade was valued at US $26.85 billion, with exports amounting to US $32.27 billion and imports to US $23.49 billion. Nanjing’s major imports include chemicals, electronics and minerals.

Key Industries

The services and industry sectors made up approximately 54.4 and 43.3 percent of Nanjing’s 2013 GDP, respectively, the largest services industries in the city are research, transport, IT, telecommunications, logistics, tourism and retail.

Considered to be the educational hub of Jiangsu province, the city hosts 54 universities with over 711,600 students. Among these, Nanjing University, Hohai University, Nanjing University of Aeronautics & Astronautics, and Southeast University are all well-known in China.

While the services sector contributes more to the city’s GDP, Nanjing has a growing industrial sector that has benefited from an abundance of resources and the city’s proximity to Shanghai. Major industries in Nanjing include electronics, software, petrochemicals, automobiles, and steel, which the government has supported with key development zones and financial incentives. Aside from its historically strong industries, the city is witnessing the growth of biopharmaceuticals, new energy, new materials, environmental services, electro-optical products, aviation equipment, ship equipment, automation and transportation.

Many industries in Nanjing rely on imports from the U.S. Below, we explore import-export demands and investment opportunities in Nanjing’s automobile, petrochemical, retail, IT-BPO, and biopharmaceutical industries.


Nanjing’s automotive industry imports and exports a range of both light and heavy duty trucks, mini vans, buses, cars and other commercial vehicles. Imports and exports for auto parts and other equipment are also prominent and include power train products, cooling systems, chassis parts, and forging, casting and stamping parts.

Automotive parts being a highly fragmented sector in China, there is a clear opportunity in this industry for U.S. companies that can manufacture advanced car parts for export. During 2009, only six enterprises in Nanjing produced complete vehicles, 16 produced specialty vehicles, over 200 produced auto components and two produced motorcycles.


Nanjing is a central petrochemical industry base in China, with a comprehensive strength that ranks second only to Shanghai. While the petrochemical industry is a pillar industry in China, it is also heavily reliant on imports, particularly from the Arab Gulf countries (US$ 15.2 billion). This is one reason why the development of this industry holds an important place in the 12th Five Year Plan.

As China intends to transform its petrochemical industry through changes in engineering construction, U.S. businesses can seek to find partners for exporting industrial goods (machines, engines, pumps, electrical machinery, etc.) and providing technology to build safe, green and smart new plants. Further, with shale gas powering a U.S. petrochemical revival, China’s market size becomes highly attractive with respect to the potential for exports.


The Nanjing service outsourcing business sector is made up of the software industry and information technology (IT), bio-medicines, industrial design, animation and other fields.

The number of Nanjing software industrial enterprises reached 1,900 in 2012. Software business income reached US$ 32.45 billion during the same year, up 37 percent from 2011. Software product income was US$ 11.19 billion, up 32 percent from the previous year, while information system integration service income was 8.11 billion, indicating a year-on-year growth rate of 30 percent.

Conjointly, Nanjing serves as a regional headquarter, R&D center and service center for various Western and Asian MNCs, including Oracle, Pactera Technology International Ltd, iSoftStone, Neusoft, CapGemini, Ascendas, Microsoft, BearingPoint and Satyam. In 2012, there were 461 newly approved foreign-invested enterprises in Nanjing, up 37.2 percent on the previous year.

As IT-BPO continues to grow in Nanjing, U.S. based companies will find increased opportunities to sell information technology and management consulting solutions to the emerging Nanjing-based industry and the companies that operate within it.


The Chinese pharmaceutical industry is fragmented and inefficient, even as China accounts for 20 percent of the world’s population and has come to host a significant ageing population. Nanjing’s growing biopharmaceuticals industry can help meet growing demand – over 100 enterprises develop and produce bio-medicine, and 60 enterprises had obtained good manufacturing practices (GMP) Certificates in 2009.

Chinese pharmaceutical imports were US$ 17.7 billion in 2014, up by 145.2 percent from the previous year. Imports for the biopharmaceutical industry in Nanjing account for a significant portion of these imports. U.S. based pharmaceutical companies are well-positioned to export to these Nanjing-based companies as the pharmaceutical industry develops in China.

Retail/Consumer Market

In 2013, Nanjing’s retail sales of consumer goods amounted to US $2.1 billion, an increase of 16 percent over the previous year. Nanjing’s retail market includes an estimated 1.5 million square meters of organized retail space – shopping centers constitute 1 million square meters of this total. Xinjiekou, the central business district in Nanjing, is the main retail market. The city’s luxury shopping mall Deji Plaza is also located here.

Another area that is developing is the city’s Hexi New Town, which is expected to become the city’s second largest retail market. Several international retail giants are already present, including Wal-Mart from the U.S., B&Q Supermarket and Tesco from the UK, Auchan and Carrefour from France, and Metro from Germany. The increase in sales of consumer goods fits in with China’s overall strategy of rebalancing its economy towards a consumer driven growth model. U.S. companies can take advantage of this opportunity by exporting more goods to meet the needs of Nanjing’s growing middle class.

Nanjing Development Zones

Nanjing has four established state level development zones: Nanjing Baixia Hi-Tech Industrial Zone, Nanjing Economic and Technological Development Zone, Nanjing Export Processing Zone, and Nanjing New and High-Tech Industry Development Zone.

These development zones offer financial incentives and tax subsidies to companies operating within them. They present U.S. exporters with a great opportunity to access the Nanjing market and China as a whole.

Nanjing Baixia Hi-Tech Industrial Zone

Nanjing Baixia Hi-Tech Industrial Zone is a national hi-tech industrial zone covering 6.4 square miles of planned area. The zone is 8.4 miles from downtown Nanjing and 31 miles from Nanjing Lukou Airport. It is equipped with key infrastructural facilities, and encourages investments into high-tech industries such as electronics, automobile, chemical, machinery, instruments and building materials.

Nanjing Economic and Technological Development Zone

Established in 1992, Nanjing Economic and Technological Development Zone is a national level zone that benefits from an established transportation network. The zone is 12 miles from Nanjing Port and 25 miles from Nanjing Lukou Airport. It hosts four specialized industries, which include the electronic information, bio-pharmaceutical, machinery and new materials industries.

Nanjing Export Processing Zone

In 2003, the State Council approved this Export Processing Zone (EPZ) in Nanjing's Southern District over a planned area of 1.2 square miles. The zone is 12 miles from Nanjing Port and several expressways intersect there. The EPZ is also free from import/export duties and provides 24-hour customs-bonded conditions. The Central Government has given the special economic region preferential policies to attract more enterprises engaged in trade investments.

Nanjing New and High-Tech Industry Development Zone

Nanjing New and High-Tech Industry Development Zone was jointly founded by the Jiangsu Provincial People's Government and the Nanjing Municipal People's Government, and was established as a national new and high-tech industry development zone by the State Council in 1991. The zone is situated close to National Highway 104 and 312 and its pillar industries include the electronic information, bio-engineering and pharmaceutical industries.

Contact Information

U.S. Commercial Service - Shanghai

Shanghai Center, Suite 631, 1376 Nanjing West Road

Shanghai 200040, China

Tel: (86-21) 6279-7630

Fax: (86-21) 6279-7639

Email: office.shanghai@trade.gov

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