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More Overseas Investment in Water Sector Encouraged
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Overseas investment is welcome in the water sector, which will be opened up further, Vice Premier Zeng Peiyan said yesterday.


"We'll continue to encourage overseas capital to invest in water conservation, sewage treatment, wastewater recycling and other projects," Zeng told participants at the 5th World Water Congress, which opened in Beijing yesterday.


In addition, domestic enterprises are urged to introduce advanced water treatment technology and management experience.


Held in Asia for the first time, the congress, which ends on Thursday, is sponsored by the International Water Association (IWA) and the Ministry of Construction to discuss issues on both local and global scales.


Minister of Construction Wang Guangtao said that as one of the world's fastest developing economies, China faces mounting pressure in water supply and pollution.


The country uses 7 percent of global fresh water resources to support 21 percent of the world's population.


IWA Vice President David Garman said that as hosts of this year's biennial congress, China could take a step forward in adopting advanced international technology in water treatment and management.


Antoine Frerot, chief executive officer of Veolia Water, said the robust policies China has adopted to open up its water sector are attracting more and more transnational companies to the Chinese market.


Veolia invested 470 million euros (US$597 million) in China last year; and this year, it clinched another two agreements bringing its total number of projects in the country to 19, Xinhua News Agency reported yesterday.


Vice Minister of Construction Qiu Baoxing told a press conference that China represents the world's largest water market; and although short-term profitability is not high, long-term prospects are rosy.


He also said that tariffs would not be raised dramatically to help resolve urban water problems. In China, tap water is priced at 20 percent of its cost.


About 3,000 professionals, including scientists, regulators and utilities' representatives from more than 90 countries and regions are participating in the congress.


(China Daily September 11, 2006)

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