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Yunnan: Market Profile

Major Economic Indicators

Economic Indicators20172018
(%, y-o-y)
(%, y-o-y)
Gross Domestic Product (RMB bn)1,653.19.511,788.18.91
Per Capita GDP (RMB)34,5458.81
Added Value Output
   Primary industry  (RMB bn)231.16.01249.96.3
   Secondary industry (RMB bn)638.810.71695.711.3
   Tertiary industry (RMB bn)783.39.51842.57.6
Value-added Industrial Output2 (RMB bn)387.610.6111.81
Fixed-assets Investment (RMB bn)1,847.518.011.6
Retail Sales (RMB bn)642.312.2682.611.1
Inflation (Consumer Price Index, %)0.9
Exports (US$ bn)11.540.412.8111.7
   By foreign-invested enterprises (US$ bn)0.31-11.20.335.8
Imports (US$ bn)11.9742.317.0842.5
   By foreign-invested enterprises (US$ bn)0.13-6.80.26100.9
Utilised Foreign Direct Investment (US$ mn)96311.1

1 In real terms
2 For all state-owned enterprises and other forms with annual sales over RMB20 million
Sources: Yunnan Statistical Yearbook 2018, Yunnan Statistical Bureau, China’s Customs Statistics

General Background

Yunnan has a total area of 394,100 sq kilometres. Total population stood at 48.00 million in 2017, comprising some 26 ethnic groups. The largest minority ethnic group in Yunnan is called “Yi”, accounting for about 11% of the total population.

Yunnan has a great variety of landscapes. While Yunnan is a major forest zone in China, whose forest area accounts for more than 9% of the country's total, it is also a mountainous area where sunshine is abundant in some places. Three rivers – Yangtze River, Lanchangjiang and Nujiang Rivers – run through the province and generate exploitable hydroelectricity reserves. Yunnan yields a large number of plant and animal species, which lays the foundation of its Chinese medicine and food industries.

Yunnan shares borders with Vietnam, Laos and Burma, and is connected to Thailand and Cambodia by waterways. Yunnan is positioning itself as a transport hub through which raw materials would be shipped to other inland provinces.


Most of Yunnan’s light industries are related to processing of farm and natural produces whereas most of its heavy industries are related to processing of raw materials. The weight of heavy industry in the total output value of industry has increased considerably in the past decades due to the high growth rate of the steel industry, electricity industry and the cement industry relative to the light industries such as sugar, cigarettes and paper. In 2017, heavy industry accounted for 65.2% of total gross industrial output.

Composition of GDP (%)


Source: Yunnan Statistical Yearbook 2018

Major Industrial outputs in Yunnan are sugar, cigarettes, cloth, steel and steel products, hydropower, raw coal and cement and machine-made paper and paperboards, which all ranked among the top in China. Its outputs of flower, tea leaves, fruits and vegetables are also very famous.

Output Share of Leading Industry Groups (2017)

 % share of gross industrial output *
Manufacture of Tobacco13.3
Smelting and Pressing of Non-ferrous Metals12.9
Production and Supply of Electric Power and Heat Power11.7
Manufacture of Raw Chemical Materials and Chemical Products7.8
Smelting and Pressing of Ferrous Metals7.3
Processing of Food from Agricultural Products7.2
Manufacture of Non-metallic Mineral Products5.9
Manufacture of Medicines3.4
Coal Mining and Dressing3.2
Processing of Petroleum, Coking, Processing of Nuclear Fuel3.1
Manufacture of Cars2.9

* For all state-owned enterprises and other forms with annual sales over RMB20 million
Source: Yunnan Statistical Yearbook 2018

Cigarettes industry is one of the biggest industries in Yunnan, accounting for 15% of the national total output (in volume) in 2017. Yunnan’s tobacco and cigarettes are famous in China– well known brands include Hongtashan (紅塔山), Ashima (阿詩瑪), Yunyan (雲烟) and Hongmei (紅梅), which all rank among the best in China. Yuxi (玉溪) is one of the most important tobacco production bases in China and the nation’s largest cigarette manufacturer – Hongta Group (玉溪紅塔烟草集團) is located in this city.

Electricity industry is another important economic pillar of Yunnan, which plays a key role in the “West-East Electricity Transmission Project” (西電東輸). Yunnan is one of the major production bases of copper, lead, zinc, tin and aluminum in China. Gejiu (個舊) city is well known as "the Kingdom of tin" with the reserves ranked first in the country. The Yunxi brand refined tin is one of the main products in Gejiu, which is registered on the London Metal Exchange. Besides, reserves of germanium, indium, zirconium, platinum, rock salt, sylvite, nickel, phosphate, mirabilite, arsenic and blue asbestos are also high.


Yunnan is one of the renowned tourist centers and receives the largest number of tourists in western China. Kunming, Dali, Lijiang, Xishuangbanna and Shangri-la are all very famous tourist spots. Yunnan has invested substantially in building the infrastructure for its tourism industry, and it has the largest number of star grade hotels in western China. Tourism also stimulated the development of other services, thus the tertiary sector represented more than 47% of its GDP.

 2017% change
Number of domestic visitors (million)566.7+33.3
Income generated (RMB bn)668.3+47.3
Number of overseas visitors (million)13.65+13.8
Foreign exchange income (US$ bn)3.55+15.5

Foreign Trade

Yunnan's major exports included chemicals and related products, base metals and related products, tobacco, vegetables, fruits and cereals etc. Owing to geographical proximity, ASEAN is the province’s largest trading partner (in particular Myanmar and Vietnam).  Yunnan’s exports to ASEAN increased 10.0% to US$6.73 billion in 2017, accounting for about 69% of its exports in 2017. Besides ASEAN, major export markets included Hong Kong, India and the US. In 2017, exports to Hong Kong dropped by 23.9% to US$1.85 billion.

Major import items included minerals, machinery and electrical appliances, electronics and telecommunications equipment. In 2017, major import sources included ASEAN (in particular Myanmar), Peru, Brazil and Chile.

Foreign Investment

Hong Kong is the largest source of foreign investment in Yunnan. In 2017, Hong Kong invested US$ 824 million in the province, accounting for 86% of Yunnan’s utilised FDI. The manufacturing sector absorbed the most FDI. In 2017, utilised FDI of the manufacturing sector accounted for 40% of the province’s total. Kunming is the major destination of FDI, taking up 83% of the province’s FDI in 2017.

Consumer Market

The largest consumer centre of Yunnan is Kunming, which accounted for 40.3% of the province’s total in 2017. A number of foreign retail enterprises have invested in Kunming’s growing consumer market. These include Walmart from the US, Carrefour from France. In 2017, per capita disposal income of urban household reached RMB30,996 (+8.3%).

Economic Indicators of Major Cities (2017)

(RMB bn)
Per Capita GDP
Gross Industrial
(RMB bn)
Retail Sales
(RMB bn)
Kunming (昆明) 485.871,906332.4259.1
Qujing (曲靖) 194.131,806170.163.5
Yuxi (玉溪) 141.559,510148.036.7
Red River (紅河) 147.931,479122.041.2
Dali (大理) 106.729,84674.737.4
Chuxiong (楚雄) 93.734,19277.133.6

* For all state-owned and other forms of enterprises with annual sales over RMB20 million
Source: Yunnan Statistical Yearbook 2018


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