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Foshan (Guangdong) City Information

Major Economic Indicators

Economic Indicators20172018
(%, y-o-y)
(%, y-o-y)
Gross Domestic Product (RMB billion)939.858.31993.596.31
Per Capita GDP (RMB)
Added Value Output
- Primary Industry (RMB billion)13.372.0114.455.81
- Secondary Industry (RMB billion)542.478.21561.406.11
- Tertiary Industry (RMB billion)384.028.51417.746.61
Value-added Industrial Output2 (RMB billion)433.538.716.31
Fixed-assets Investment (RMB billion)426.5821.55.6
Retail Sales of Consumer Goods (RMB billion)332.0410.08.9
Inflation (Consumer Price Index, %)1.92.0
Exports (RMB billion)315.361.7352.7411.9
Imports (RMB billion)120.3817.4107.19-11.0
Utilised Foreign Direct Investment (US$ billion)1.62310.3

1 In renminbi real terms
2 For all state-owned and other forms of enterprises with annual sales over RMB20 million
Source: Foshan Municipal Statistics Bureau

General Background

Foshan is located on the west bank of the Pearl River and, together with Guangzhou, it forms the Guangzhou-Foshan metropolitan circle. The city is divided into five administrative districts – Chancheng, Nanhai, Shunde, Gaoming and Sanshui – and extends across an area of 3,798 sq km. As of the end of 2018, its permanent population stood at 7.9 million, making it the third largest city in Guangdong, trailing only Guangzhou and Shenzhen.

Foshan is also at the heart of the Lingnan region, an area of Southern China with its own classical culture. As such, the city has its own distinctive heritage, something that is reflected in its ceramics, Cantonese opera, martial arts, Canton silk, patent medicine and folk arts.

Within Foshan, a number of townships have developed specialties in particular industries with several separate clusters forming as a result. This has seen Ronggui and Beijiao emerge as manufacturers of home electrical appliances, while Lecong and Longjiang have focused on furniture, Shiwan and Nanzhuang on ceramics, Dali on aluminum, Chencun on flowers and Xiqiao on textiles. In all, Foshan is home to 41 townships that have a speciality in one particular industry, with a further 38 townships recognised at the municipal level as being specialised in a certain sector. Overall, Foshan is ranked number one among all of Guangdong’s prefecture-level cities in terms of its number of industrial townships.

In 2018, private economy accounted for 62.5% of the city’s GDP. Among the city’s key businesses are Midea, Country Garden and Galanz, with local enterprises also producing a number of the mainland’s most high-profile brands, including Foshan Lighting, Haitian Flavouring and Food, New Zhong Yuan Ceramics, Jianlibao drinks, Lesso non-metallic tubing and Esquel textiles.

According to the Outline Development Plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, to leverage the leading roles of the strong combination of Guangzhou-Foshan, to expedite the integrated development of Guangzhou and Foshan, to develop an industrial belt for advanced equipment manufacturing on the west bank of the Pearl River spearheaded by Foshan and Zhuhai.


Although the percentage GDP share contributed by Foshan’s secondary industry has declined somewhat since 2009, it still accounts for the largest share overall. Over the same period, the proportion accounted for by the tertiary industry has risen gradually.

Composition of GDP (%)

Primary Industry
Secondary Industry63.9
Tertiary Industry33.9

Source: Foshan Municipal Statistics Bureau

In 2015, Foshan was designated as a pilot city for the reform, transformation and upgrading of China’s manufacturing base. As a result, the city has emerged as a key player in a number of crucial industry sectors, including machinery and equipment, electronic information, food and beverages, fine chemicals, pharmaceuticals and homeware.

Over recent years, several major businesses, including FAW-Volkswagen, Beiqi Foton Motor, CRRC and China Sun Pharmaceutical Machinery, have initiated projects in the city. Many of these have related to emerging industrial sectors, most notably high-tech and electronic information, semi-conductor lighting, energy-saving and environmental protection and new-energy cars. As Foshan has stepped up its overall investment in technology, R&D expenditure as a percentage of the city’s GDP has increased from 1.9% in 2011 to 2.7% in 2017. As of 2017, there were 2,547 state-level high-tech enterprises operating in the city.

In order to attract and nurture industrial technological services, the Sino-German Industrial Service Zone was established in Foshan as a high-end international co-operation zone for all of Guangdong’s industries. The Zone now plays a lead role in country-level co-operation between China and Germany and has a particular focus on developing Foshan’s high-end technology services as a means of facilitating and strengthening co-operation with its European partner’s high-tech sector. By 2020, it is anticipated that the city will be home to 300 international industrial service organisations.

Over recent years, Foshan has also looked to upgrade the development level of its service industries, with a particular focus on its producer services. This has seen it prioritise five particular sectors – finance, modern logistics, conventions and exhibitions, industrial design and outsourcing of services.

In terms of the city’s agricultural sector, this is dominated by ornamental flowers, aquatic products, and stock farming activities. It is also the site of the mainland’s largest moth orchid production facilities, as well as being acclaimed as China’s hometown for both eels and freshwater fry.

Foreign Trade and Investment

In 2018, machinery and electrical products items accounted for 54% of the city’s exports, with 6.3% of these also designated as high-tech products. In terms of percentage share of Guangdong’s total exports for 2017, Foshan accounted for 8.2%. In 2017, the manufacturing sector was allocated 24.2% of the city’s total utilised foreign direct investment.

At present, Foshan has 68 officially-designated tourist attractions, including the Foshan Ancestral Temple, the Xiqiao Mountain (a national AAAAA-class tourist attraction), Qing Hui Yuan and Liang Yuan (two of Guangdong’s Four Great Gardens dating back to the time of the Qing Dynasty), Lingnan World (Donghua Li), and the former residence of Kang Youwei, the late 19th century scholar and political leader. In line with Foshan’s 13th Five-Year Plan, the collaborative development of its tourism, cultural and creative sectors is to be prioritised, while the potential of experiential tourism, which combines traditional tourism with opportunities to tour leading manufacturing plants, will also be explored.



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Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research