Open for business from Europe

Updated: 2012-11-16 14:59

By Meng Jing (China Daily)

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Quality Partnerships to bring more European goods to Chinese market

Even though the majority of Chinese people still drink instant coffee that can be made for 1 yuan (16 US cents) per cup, some of the world's most expensive coffee machines are available in the Chinese market.

The person helping to make this happen is Klaus Ziegler, the founder and president of Switzerland-based Quality Partnerships, which helps European companies obtain market-access licenses in China.

Open for business from Europe

Klaus Ziegler's Quality Partnerships aims to help secure quality licenses for small and medium companies from Europe to get into the Chinese market. [Photo/China Daily] 

He has brought coffee machines from brands based in Switzerland and Italy to the Middle Kingdom, where these products are priced from 4,000 yuan to 20,000 yuan.

By comparison, brand-name made-in-China coffee machines can be bought for as little as 200 yuan.

China, however, has a thirst for more than coffee. As more and more Chinese customers are willing and able to pay for high-end products made outside China, Ziegler says there will be a promising future for his company.

"China's demand for imported goods is growing very fast. The more the Chinese consume, the bigger our business will be," he says.

Though China's exports to the EU from January to September fell 5.6 percent to $250.46 billion from the previous corresponding period, imports rose 2.1 percent to $160.53 billion, according to the General Administration of Customs.

The 50-year-old Swiss national, who has been appointed as the Seconded European Standardization Expert for China since 2006, a semi government-run project supported by major European standardization bodies, European Free Trade Association and the European Commission to reinforce the cooperation on standards between Europe and China, founded the company in 2009, after witnessing the difficulties faced by foreign small and medium-sized enterprises trying to gain licenses for the Chinese market.

"European producers don't need licenses to put their products on their home market. But around 50 percent of trade goods between Europe and China need some kind of license and it is expensive and time-consuming for European companies to get licenses in China," says Ziegler, who has decades of experience in standardization, certification and testing.

According to him, a license for the Chinese market requires a very specific application procedure, and it is very difficult for foreign companies to understand how Chinese governments and organizations operate.

As such, it is unsurprising that market access has long been a major concern for smaller European businesses in China.

Approximately a half of European Chamber member companies asserted that they lost out on business opportunities due to market access and regulatory barriers in the annual Business Confidence Survey 2012.

And the requirement for licenses is one of China's typical market access barriers, according to the chamber's annual European Business in China Position Paper released in September.

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