Thrills - and some spills

Updated: 2010-12-01 14:43

By Andrew Moody (China Daily)

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Edward Tse, chairman of global management consultants Booz & Co in China, based in Hong Kong, says there has been a recent nervousness among foreign companies.

"I think there has been a lot of talk in the international businesses community about how businesses feel about China now," he says.

Serge Janssens de Vaerebeke, who was president of the EU Chamber from 2004 to 2007 and who was also its Belgian state representative, says succeeding in China does take a certain amount of nerve.

"If you want to succeed in the China market, you have to be present, invest and show you have confidence. If you just come and hesitate you will not be successful," he says.

"I don't think it is ever too late if you have a good product but you have to play it right. Sometimes it is good to have a good Chinese partner."

De Boisseson, who has been in China for five years and is also chief representative of the French oil company Total, says Chinese companies are becoming increasingly self sufficient and need less foreign help.

Total, which has been in China since the late 1970s, has a number of joint venture arrangements with China's leading energy companies including Sinopec, PetroChina and CNOOC.

"In our business, Chinese companies are able to do 90 percent of what they need. We are competing to work with them on the last 10 percent where we can bring added technology and build partnerships," he says.

He says the Chinese also see such arrangements with European multinationals as a way of accessing other international markets such as in Africa and South America.

"It can be a way to get access to other markets and sometimes Chinese companies are willing to use our experience in other markets to get a foothold there," he adds.

De Vaerebeke, who has been in China for 12 years, insists you cannot downplay the impact that China has had over the past 10 years on European businesses.

"Some companies, particularly in sectors like the automotive industry, survived the financial crisis because of the importance of the Chinese market, " he says.

He also says China is already shaping the leadership of many European companies and will increasingly do so in the future.

"European companies now send their top people to China and certainly if you want to get to the top in Europe, you are beginning to need some years in China on your CV, " he says.

Wuttke says there is too much focus on Chinese companies getting ensnared by anti-dumping legislation in Europe and disquiet about the "huge juggernaut entering the worlds stage".

"Europeans love Chinese products or they wouldn't buy 250 billion euros of them every year. China lowers inflation in Europe. People emphasize trade barriers but less than 2 percent of trade is subject to anti-dumping," he adds.

De Boisseson believes protectionism is in neither China nor the EU's interest.

"It is something we have to fight against. I was in Spain recently and they were telling me at the ministry of trade how large Spanish companies feared losing their protection when Spain entered the EU in the mid-1980s. The same companies are now in their element," he says.

He says the business relationship between the EU and China was essentially a two-way game.

"I have a strong conviction that allowing greater trade and investment on both sides will be beneficial to all," he adds.

Yan Yiqi contributed to this story.

Thrills - and some spills

 From top: The current and former presidents of the EU Chamber of Commerce in China, Jacques de Boisseson, Serge Janssens de Vaerebeke and Ernst Behrens. File Photo



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