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Schroeder's China Tour Set to Expand Trade Ties

Germany, China's largest trade partner in Europe for the past 30 years, is working to tap Chinese market further during Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's present trip. It is launching another bid after German brands such as SIEMENS and Volkswagen bore testimony of quality products to Chinese customs in the past decades.

During his three-day visit in China, or the sixth working visit to the country after 1999, Chancellor Schroeder is scheduled to attend a number of functions for Sino-German cooperation projects in Beijing and Changchun, capital of northeastern Jilin Province, besides his meetings with Chinese leaders.

"The chancellor's schedule on his trip was packed, which is sure to show sound Sino-German ties and spur bilateral cooperation in trade and economy," according to a diplomatic source.
"We expect the German chancellor to address trade and investment hurdles, promote good political relationship and increase Germans' awareness about China so as to bring Germany closer still to the ordinary Chinese 'laobaixing'," said Jorg Wuttke, chief representative of BASF (China) Company Limited.

The "Laobaixing" in Chinese means commoners at the gross-root level.

Sino-German trade volume maintained a two-digit growth in the past five years and hit US$43.64 billion this year through October, as against US$41.88 billion in 2003, figures from the Chinese Ministry of Commerce showed.

Meanwhile, China has overtaken Japan to be Germany's largest trade partner in Asia since 2003.

"The economic structures of China and Germany are complementary, which forge a huge potential for bilateral cooperation. China will take more substantial measures to inspire cooperation between the enterprises of both nations," said an official with the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOC), who declined to be named.

"Germany and China share a basis for long-term trade relations," said Elmar Stachels, chief executive of Bayer Group for China, "Germany companies are investing more in China and Chinese firms are exploring markets in Germany, so that the trade and economic ties between the two nations could be further enhanced."

According to the MOC, Germany has become China's biggest European investor in the past three years, involving a total of 3,994 joint-venture projects with a total investment of US$9.79 billion, and their focuses are placed on major projects with big output and high-technology.
Meanwhile, Haier and a host of other Chinese investors have gone to make investments in European nations. There were more than600 Chinese-funded firms to invest in Germany so far with a combined investment of approximately 200 million US dollars, MOC figures show.

"During Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to Germany last May, leaders of both nations pledged to double bilateral trade volume in 2010 and the people in business circles were fully confident in attaining the goal with joint efforts of the two sides by the prescribed time," said a MOC official.

(Xinhua News Agency December 6, 2004)

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