China and the EU have decided to hold a bilateral investment and trade fair in Chengdu, southwest China's Sichuan Province, from November 9 to 10, 2006, Yu Ping, vice president of China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT), announced at a press conference on Thursday afternoon in Beijing.
The fair, titled EU-China Partenariat 2006, will be co-sponsored by the European Commission, CCPIT, Sichuan provincial government and Chengdu municipal government.
The partenariat, first initiated in 1988, is designed to promote trade, investment and technological cooperation among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from the EU and other parts of the world. It has been organized in many Asian cities since 1997 and Beijing hosted the first EU-China Partenariat on November 7, 2002.
The partenariat will focus on eight sectors including agricultural product processing, tourism, medical care, environmental protection, machinery, construction equipment, IT and electronic components. It is expected to draw 400 businesses from 25 EU countries and 500 Chinese businesses.
"The EU-China Partenariat 2006 will bring Chinese SMEs opportunities to seek EU business partners, set up connections with EU production, distribution and sales networks and broaden cooperation channels," Yu said.
"Since EU market is oversupplied," he said, "EU SMEs can expand their capital, product, technology and service into the Chinese market, which is more promising and has greater potential."
Serge Abou, the European Commission's ambassador to China, was optimistic about the success of the event.
"Why am I so sure?" he asked with rhetorical question. "First, because we are China and Europe; second, because we have the best companies in the world; third, because Chengdu is a magnificent city, while Sichuan is one of the most beautiful provinces in China. It has the ability to attract quality investors."
China-EU trade has grown rapidly over the years. According to the statistics from General Administration of Customs, the value of bilateral trade in the first nine months of this year reached US$157.79 billion, up 23.7 percent from the same period last year, and accounting for 15.04 percent of China's total bilateral trade volume. The EU is now China's No.1 trading partner and China remains EU's second largest trading partner. In addition, the EU is China's fourth largest investor and its prime technology supplier.
Many big EU companies, like Volkswagen, Carrefour and Siemens, entered China's market early with heavy investments. However, SMEs, which account for two thirds of EU enterprises, remain removed from China's market. Investment in the SME sector is therefore the next emphasis for EU-China trade.
Chengdu, capital of Sichuan Province and southwest China's economic center, has become a new investment hotspot. According to a communiqué released by the local statistics bureau, the city's contractual foreign investment in 2004 reached US$1.53 billion, jumping 96.4 percent over the previous year, while its gross domestic product was 218.57 billion yuan (about US$27 billion), up 13.6 percent.
(China.org.cn by staff reporter Tang Fuchun, December 9, 2005)