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Hunan: Market Profile

Major Economic Indicators

Economic Indicators20162017
(%, y-o-y)
(%, y-o-y)
Gross Domestic Product (RMB bn)3,155.18.013,459.18.01
Per Capita GDP (RMB)46,3827.3150,5637.41
Added Value Output
   Primary industry  (RMB bn)357.83.31369.03.61
   Secondary industry (RMB bn)1,334.16.511,414.66.71
   Tertiary industry (RMB bn)1,463.110.611,675.510.31
Value-added Industrial Output2 (RMB bn)6.917.31
Fixed-assets Investment (RMB bn)2,768.86.73,132.813.1
Retail Sales (RMB bn)1,343.711.71,485.510.6
Inflation (Consumer Price Index, %)1.91.4
Exports (US$ bn)17.7-7.723.231.0
   By foreign-invested enterprises (US$ bn)3.3-
Imports (US$ bn)8.6-15.612.950.5
   By foreign-invested enterprises (US$ bn)
Utilised Foreign Direct Investment (US$ bn)12.911.114.512.6

1 In real terms
2 For all state-owned enterprises and other forms with annual sales over RMB20 million

Sources: Hunan Statistical Yearbook 2017, Hunan Statistical Bureau, China’s Customs Statistics 12.2016, 12.2017


General Background

Hunan has a total area of 211,800 sq km. The total population stood at 68.6 million in 2017. Hunan – abbreviated as Xiang (湘) – is laced with lakes, including the Dongting Lake (洞庭湖) which is the second largest fresh water lake in China.

Blessed with a subtropical temperate climate and abundant rainfall and sunshine, Hunan is the largest producer of rice in China, accounting for about 12.6% of the national total in 2016. Hunan is also the second largest producer of citrus and the third producer of pork in 2016. It is also a major producer of tea and tobacco. Hunan is also one of southern China’s main timber bases.

Hunan has rich reserves of minerals. Its reserve of tungsten, antimony, zinc and bauxite are among the top in China. Other major deposits of minerals include lead, tin, barite and graphite mineral. It is named as the “country of non-ferrous metals” and the “country of non-metal minerals”.

Hunan enjoys a favorable geological location: it is situated at the development belt of the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River; it is adjacent to Guangdong and container trucks can get to Hong Kong within one day.


The primary sector still accounted for 10.7% of Hunan’s GDP in 2017.  Among the agricultural sector, animal husbandry accounted for 29% of the gross output in 2016. In recent years, Hunan is also developing into a production base of dairy products.


Composition of GDP (%)


Source: Hunan Statistical Bureau


Hunan has evolved a complete industrial system, and formed a considerable capacity in the production. Industries are mainly located at Changsha (長沙), Yueyang (岳陽) and Zhuzhou (株州), which together accounted for over 49% of Hunan’s industrial sales value in 2015.


Major Industry Groups (2016)

 % share of  industrial
sales value
Processing of food from agricultural products8.3
Manufacture of chemical raw materials & chemical products7.7
Non-metal mineral products7.7
Manufacturing and processing of non-ferrous metal7.3
Manufacture of special purpose machinery7.3
Telecommunication equipment, computer & other electronic equipment6.5
Manufacturing of electrical machinery and equipment4.8
Manufacturing of food and beverage4.8
Manufacturing of general purpose machinery4.4
Manufacturing and processing of ferrous metal3.9
Manufacture of tobacco2.1

Source: Hunan Statistical Yearbook 2017


A large share of Hunan’s industrial output is related to its rich mineral deposits. For example, smelting and pressing of ferrous and non-ferrous metals accounted for 11.2% of the total industrial sales.

In recent years, Hunan has become a base for relocation of manufacturing industries from such provinces as Guangdong, Zhejiang, Beiing, Fujian and Shanghai etc. In 2017, investment from other provinces grew by 16.9% to RMB509.8 billion.

For the tertiary industry of Hunan, the sector of culture, sports and entertainment appears to be “the pearl on the crown”. Hunan TV is very popular among domestic TV watchers. In 2016, the value-added of cultural and creative industries of Hunan amounted to RMB191.1 billion, accounting for 6.1% of the GDP, up from 2.4% in 2000.


Hunan has rich historical heritages and tourism resources. Historical sites include Yueyang Tower (岳陽樓), one of the three historical monuments in South China; Yuelu Academy (嶽麓書院), one of the top four academies in the Song Dynasty (960-1279 A.D.); Aiwan Pavilion (愛晚亭), one of top four pavilions in China; tomb of Mawangdui (馬王堆). Natural scenic spots include Mount Hengshan (衡山), Dongting Lake (洞庭湖) and Zhangjiajie (張家界). There are 88 revolutionary bases in Hunan Province, including the former home of Mao Zedong.

In 2017, Hunan received 670 million (+18.3%) domestic tourists with the tourism receipts of RMB708.5 billion (+31.4%) and 3.23 million (+8.6%) overseas tourists with the foreign exchange revenue of US$1.3 billion (+11.7%).

Foreign Trade

Major export items included rolled steel, textiles, clothing and apparels, footwear, porcelain and pottery wares, fireworks and firecrackers etc. Major export markets in 2017 were Hong Kong and the US. In 2017, exports to Hong Kong grew by 28.6% to RMB36.8 billion, accounting for about 24% of the total exports.

Major imports included iron ore, auto parts, machinery and electronic components. Major import sources were the US, Australia, Taiwan and South Korea.

Foreign Investment

Chart: Utilised FDI of Hunan
Chart: Utilised FDI of Hunan

Most of Hunan’s utilised FDI went to the secondary industry (53.4% of the total utilised FDI in 2016, down from 78.7% in 2012). FDI going to the tertiary sector grew by 41% in. Among the world’s top 500 companies, 193 had already established presence in Hunan by 2017.

Hong Kong is the leading investor in Hunan. In 2016, utilised FDI from Hong Kong amounted to US$8,141 million, accounting for 63.3% of the total utilised FDI. Other major investors in 2015 included Taiwan, Japan and Germany.

Consumer Market

Changsha is the largest consumer centre, accounting for 31% of the province’s total retail sales. In 2017, the per capita disposable income of urban households in Hunan was RMB33,948 (+8.5%).

Major department stores and shopping centres in Changsha of Hunan include Bailian Oriental Plaza (百聯東方廣場), Apollo Commercial Square (阿波羅商業廣場), Heiwado Department Store (平和堂百貨), Tongcheng Group (通程集團), Changsha New World Fashion Square (長沙新世界時尚廣場) and Wangfujing Department Store. There are various forms of modern operation such as chain stores, supermarkets and convenience stores in Hunan, represented by Walmart from the US, Metro from Germany, Carrefour from France etc.


Economic Indicators of Major Cities (2016)

(RMB bn)
Per Capita GDP
Sales Value*
(RMB bn)
Retail Sales
(RMB bn)
(US$ mn)
Changsha (長沙) 935.7124,1221,017.3411.77,556
Zhuzhou (株州) 248.862,081328.193.81,235
Xiangtan (湘潭) 186.765,946328.758.21,353
Hengyang (衡陽) 286.939,233207.7112.81,616
Yueyang (岳陽) 310.154,832503.2114.31,136
Changde (常德) 295.450,543249.1105.8511

* For all state-owned and non-state-owned enterprises with annual sales over RMB20 million
Source: Hunan Statistical Yearbook, 2017

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