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Urban Sewage Treatment Offers Business Opportunities
Sewage treatment has rapidly become a new driving force of China's economic growth, bringing huge business opportunities to domestic and overseas investors and entrepreneurs.

Xie Zhenhua, director of the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA), said Thursday that the sewage treatment sector is facing a golden opportunity and that China's treatment capacity will double by 2005, with an investment of 120 billion yuan (US$14.5 billion).

By 2005, 45 percent of urban sewage must be treated in China and the sewage treatment rate must exceed 60 percent in cities with a population of over 500,000.

To achieve the goal, 58 million tons of sewage must be treated every day, compared with the current figure of 25.44 million tons, which only accounts for 22.3 percent of urban sewage.

Since 1998, the Chinese government has invested 200 billion yuan (US$24.2 billion) to develop its urban infrastructure facilities.

For the sewage treatment sector, however, the fund is far from enough to meet the demand.

Wang Jirong, deputy director of SEPA, told Xinhua that the sewage treatment sector will open to all kinds of capital, including overseas investment and private funds.

In recent years, China has been gradually expanding the shares of overseas investment to finance urban sewage treatment projects.

The World Bank and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) have participated in many sewage treatment projects in China.

The World Bank has invested US$2 billion in 15 such projects, while UNIDO has pledged to inject 30 billion US dollars in projects in China's big cities in the next ten years.

In preparing for the 2008 Olympic Games, Beijing plans to finance the urban sewage treatment facilities through various channels.

Beijing has a target of treating 2.62 million tons of sewage every day by 2005 with the treatment rate reaching 87 percent, matching the level of New York and Tokyo.

According to Wang Jirong, an effective levying system for urban sewage treatment has not been established in most Chinese cities and there is a large gap between the sewage treatment levies and costs.

Wang said that it is imperative to set up a policy platform to levy treatment and pave way for the industrialization of the urban sewage treatment sector in the country.

(Xinhua News Agency June 6, 2003)

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