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Centec: Promoting trade, helping the environment
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Tony Clark, counselor for Trade and Investment Promotion and head of the Swedish Embassy Center for Environmental Technology (Centec), is in charge of not only enhancing trade and investment but also promoting environmental protection, which makes him a busy man in both economic and environmental affairs.

Scandinavian Airlines increased its frequency of flights from three to six times a week starting from March 30 and now serves 28 cities in China via Beijing.

Economic development and environmental protection are crucial topics at present, not only for Sweden and China but also for the entire world.

As far back as 1847, Sweden and China entered into an agreement on friendship and trade. In 2007, bilateral trade reached US$8.7 billion, with China the most important trading partner for Sweden in Asia for five consecutive years.

As a counselor promoting trade and investment, Clark has made wide efforts in the past two years to boost bilateral trade.

"We have something very much in common because we are both countries of free traders. The ties continue today thanks to even broader and deeper contacts in many areas, " he says.

A recent survey shows that there are 30 to 40 Swedish agencies and official institutions engaged in bilateral cooperation with China.

"Even though Sweden is a small country, it is the fourth-largest European investor among EU countries in China," Clark says, noting he expects to maintain that ranking through "many modes of cooperation that we can see in the future".

The telecom sector is of intense interest to both Swedish and Chinese companies. Ericsson, the leading supplier of equipment for China's rapidly growing telecom system, received its first order from China in 1892, Clark notes

He adds that both cooperation and competition between the two nations are mutually beneficial. "If you do not have competition, you never improve yourself and never invest R & D. Competition to some extent is good because the market economy drives economic development and innovation."

While the two countries have an increasing number of opportunities to deepen cooperation, they both face challenges.

Clark says Sweden will have an increased focus on environmental technology over the coming years, as a way to promote bilateral trade even more.

"We also want to highlight that Sweden can offer not only technology but also system solutions and policies," he says, because systems as well as the way of thinking is needed when new environmental technology solutions are introduced.

Sweden and China also pursue close cooperation in sustainable urban development, renewable energy, energy efficiency, urban transport and pollution control.

The concept of the sustainable city has been presented on a large scale in China. The experience and contribution of Chinese counterparts in central, provincial and local governments are highly constructive and appreciated, Clark says.

He notes that Swedish environmental policies, technology and management solutions are offered in China by the Swedish government through the Swedish International Development Agency by financing the new Center for Environmental Technology (Centec) in Beijing.

Clark says Centec focuses on areas where Sweden possesses unique competence and where China is looking for solutions, especially in urban development, air monitoring and emissions reduction, industrial pollution control, renewable energy and energy efficiency, water supply and waste water treatment, waste handling and hazardous chemicals, and sustainable urban transport systems.

As a platform for communication on environmental technology issues, Centec arranges high-level visits in both directions, organizes seminars and workshops, participates in exhibitions and conferences, identifies demonstration projects and facilitates the creation of financial solutions.

Not long established, Centec has held several big activities and plans to organize more events this year.

In 1972, China participated in the first UN environmental protection conference in Sweden, the first international conference the People's Republic of China attended. It early on realized the importance of environmental issues, Clark says.

While he is "happy to cooperate together on these issues" as the two nations share experience on environmental protection, Clark notes "China has to find out its own way for solutions".

"If you do not care of the environment today you will not have production recourses tomorrow."

Clark says he hopes to see a broad scope of cooperation in the future.

(China Daily April 14, 2008)

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