China's success in Europe 'takes time'

Updated: 2013-10-11 02:57

By BAO CHANG in Shanghai (China Daily)

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China's success in Europe 'takes time'

Visitors throng the China pavilion at the Hannover Industrial Exposition. China's total investment in Europe was $10 billion by 2011 and is expected to reach $250 billion to $500 billion by 2020. [MA NING / XINHUA]

Win-win result can be achieved, says top official

Chinese investment in Europe has grown rapidly, but for China to become a successful and mature investor in the continent requires more time, a senior trade official said on Thursday.

"We think that China's foreign investment and investment in Europe is an activity that combines economic, social and cultural factors.

"The success of this investment doesn't depend only on financial strength," said Ma She, deputy director-general of the department of European affairs at the Ministry of Commerce.

Ma commented during the "Go To Europe" Investment Forum held by the China Public Diplomacy Association in Shanghai.

Ma said he believes that integrating in foreign markets is a big obstacle Chinese investors face, because successful investment is based on an investor's understanding of the local environment.

Chinese corporate investment in Europe soared in recent years. Prior to 2008, the nation's annual investment in Europe was less than $1 billion, but by 2011 it had increased to $10 billion.

By 2020, China's total investment in the region is expected to reach $250 billion to $500 billion.

Qi Mei, counselor from the department of European affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said Chinese enterprises investing in Europe face tough problems and obstacles.

"There are technical barriers in many areas, and there is no unified foreign investment approval procedure. The enthusiasm and motivation of Chinese investors are seriously affected by the abuse of antitrust investigations, harsh visa conditions and inflexible labor laws," Qi said.

"Trade protectionism has been rising in Europe in recent years. We hope the European Union will pay full attention to these issues, create a good atmosphere and environment for Chinese enterprises to invest and provide the necessary facilities," Qi added.

The EU has launched four trade remedy investigations against Chinese enterprises this year.

"Looking at the situation in recent years, Chinese enterprises investing in Europe have encountered some common investment facilitation problems. Some of these issues are being addressed, but some have not been effectively resolved," Qi said.

Problems include the EU's immigration and labor policies and what Qi said was the unfair practice of requiring non-permanent Chinese staff in Europe to pay into social insurance and unemployment compensation systems.

In addition, it's very difficult for Chinese companies to gain support from local financial institutions, which has increased the difficulties facing Chinese investors' local operations, according to Qi.

"China has made great efforts to promote investment facilitation in recent years," Ma said.

In recent years, China established special funds to foster Chinese investment in Europe, including a shipping development fund with Greece and special loans for small and medium-sized enterprises' development in Germany.

"With a population of 510 million and per capita GDP of up to $32,700, the EU is a huge market with advantages in technology, innovation, management, human resources and environmental management and has great advantages.

"Rising Chinese investment in Europe offers mutual benefit," said Li Zhaoxing, chairman of the China Public Diplomacy Association.