This article provides an overview of Tianjin for those keen on exploring the possibility of living and working there. The information presented is gathered from open sources and is not exhaustive or meant to supplement or substitute legal and professional advice.
- Land area: 11,917sq km
- Population (2019): 15.62 million
- Gross domestic product (GDP) (2019): RMB 1,410.4 billion
- GDP per capita (2019): RMB 90,371
Tianjin is a metropolis in the northeastern coast of mainland China. It is one of the four autonomous municipalities in the country, along with Beijing, Shanghai and Chongqing, that are under the direct administration of the central government. It is northern China’s most important manufacturing centre and leading port.
Tianjin reached its 12th Five-Year Plan (2011–15) goals, with an overall GDP of RMB 1.65 trillion. Its GDP increased 12.4 percent annually during this period by supporting scientific innovation and improving the competitiveness of its industries. It also achieved growth by transforming its economic structure and developing its service industry to account for 52 percent of its economy, overtaking manufacturing. The private sector in Tianjin accounted for 46.7 percent of Tianjin’s GDP, as it opened up more to the outside world, attracting 1.55 billion RMB in domestic investment and US$85 trillion in foreign investment. In 2015, there were 162 of the Global Top 500 companies and 216 of China’s Top 500 investing there.
Tianjin expects its GDP growth to reach 6.5 percent in 2021 compared to 1.5 percent in 2020. The strong momentum in its manufacturing sector has helped propel GDP growth in Tianjin. In 2020, despite the impact from COVID-19, the city’s manufacturing sector is reported to have grown for seven straight months. During the period, the sector contributed 72.9 percent of industrial output among all local enterprises each with industrial output above 20 million yuan (US$3.9 million). In particular, its equipment manufacturing and high-tech manufacturing sectors surged by 7.8 percent and 4.6 percent, respectively, 6.2 percent and three percent higher than the city’s average. The city has assigned the manufacturing sector as its economic pillar during the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-25), becoming the only area among the country’s municipalities and provinces to designate the sector as a chief economic pillar.
Binhai New Area
With the aim of strengthening Tianjin’s position as the economic centre of the Bohai Bay region, priority has been given to the development of the Binhai New Area. Preferential policies have been enacted by the State Council to support the development of the Binhai New Area. In recent years, Tianjin has played a key role in the coordinated development of the Beijing Tianjin Hebei region in relocating non essential functions from Beijing and assisting in the construction of the Xiongan New Area.
Tianjin Free Trade Zone
The China (Tianjin) Pilot Free Trade Zone (TJFTZ) was officially launched in April 2015 as part of China’s second batch of free trade zones following the establishment of the Shanghai FTZ. Its strategic positioning is intended to make it an open platform for the collaborative development of the Beijing Tianjin Hebei region. TJFTZ will fully leverage Tianjin port’s advantages in being able to serve overseas markets, including Northeast Asia, in order to promote economic growth in Beijing, Hebei and other inland regions.
Being the cradle of China’s modern mechanic industry and textile industry, Tianjin is an important industrial centre in China. In 2019, Tianjin accounted for 16.3 percent of China’s total crude oil production, only second to Shaanxi Province. In recent years, the electrical and automotive industry has played a more important role in Tianjin’s industries. In 2019, manufacture of electrical machinery and apparatus increased 10.9 percent and manufacture of automobiles increased 13.7 percent. Tianjin is also positioned to be a leading R&D centre, international logistics hub, financial innovations demonstration zone, and reform and opening-up pilot zone in the coordinated development of the Beijing Tianjin Hebei region.
Foreign trade & foreign investment
Tianjin’s major exports include mechanical and electronic products and major export markets are the United States, South Korea, Japan, Vietnam and Hong Kong. In 2018, exports to Hong Kong amounted to US$2.60 billion, or 5.4 percent of Tianjin’s total exports. Major import sources were the United States, South Korea, Japan, Germany and France. In 2018, 30.1 percent of the utilised FDI went to the manufacturing sector and 12.8 percent went to the leasing and business services sector.
Hong Kong is the leading investor in Tianjin with utilised investment from Hong Kong amounting to US$84.0 billion at the end of 2018. In 2018 alone, utilised investment from Hong Kong stood at US$3.10 billion. Other major sources of foreign investment included Japan, Germany, the United States and Singapore.
The municipality’s colonial history left behind thousands of villas that lend an exotic flavour to the metropolis. Attractions include the Gu Wenhua Jie, Dagu Emplacement, Huangyaguan Great Wall, Dule Temple, Haihe River, Water Park, Panshan Mountain, Hotel Street and Food Street, Tianjin TV and Radio Tower and Zhonghuan Cailian.
Singapore & Tianjin
On 1 December 2020, Singapore and Tianjin signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) at the ninth Singapore-Tianjin Economic and Trade Council meeting in an effort to deepen cooperation in sustainable and smart development, trade and investment, and people-to-people exchanges. The MOU is expected to spur development of the Jing-Jin-Ji region and promote collaborations related to the Belt and Road Initiative, with opportunities for Singapore companies to participate in areas such as Tianjin’s green development.