China’s trading companies, as discussed in Chapter 4, are one of the major forces among Chinese firms engaging in transnational operations and outward investment. The original twelve national trading corporations were among the very first to internationalise. When China started opening up in 1978, these twelve firms were of comparatively large size in terms of their annual turnover. They also possessed undeniable advantages (in comparison with other Chinese firms) in engaging the international markets. They were clearly among a very small number of Chinese firms that had expertise in importing and exporting, and knowledge of the international market with existing contacts and a client base. Their monopolist position in respective lines of trade, though geared to fulfil government import and export plans, put them in an advantageous position to exploit the opportunities offered by China’s changing development strategy increasingly oriented towards export-led growth. In subsequent years, all these trading corporations have been transnationalised and engaged in global operations.
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