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Germany seeking a strong partnership

Updated: Oct 10,2014 6:50 AM     China Daily

Minister: Economic and social link-ups are vital

The challenges of China’s ongoing economic transformation provide the German economy with the prospect of opportunities, German Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Sigmund Gabriel said.

“What we see in China is a process of stabilization ... . The Chinese government policy now focuses more on qualitative growth rather than quantitative,” Gabriel told China Daily.

The high double-digit growth rate of China in the past is now connected to challenges such as high energy consumption, pollution and social issues, he said.

“German companies rely heavily on environmentally friendly and energy-efficient technologies. Increased investment in such technologies and the strengthening of domestic demand bring good sales opportunities for our companies.”

The German minister’s words came as Premier Li Keqiang began his three-day visit to Germany, part of a series of meetings between Germany and China this year.

Li’s visit follows one by President Xi Jinping as well as German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit to China in July.

Gabriel said these meetings symbolize an expression of the importance of economic relations and “also the overall relationship between our countries”.

Cooperation on innovation will be high on the agenda during Li’s visit.

“It is particularly important to set up a partnership to strengthen innovation in the economic field but also to strengthen our social cooperation,” Gabriel said.

He said he thinks relations between China and Germany are developing positively and are well-balanced, which bodes well for a “long-lasting, stable and prosperous cooperation”.

Trade between China and Germany accounts for 30 percent of trade between China and Europe.

Germany is Europe’s largest investor in China, with investment growing by 43 percent, or $2.08 billion, last year, and it has been the top destination for Chinese investment in the EU.

Chinese investment in Germany was worth $830 million last year, 29 percent more than a year earlier.

“We welcome Chinese investors who create growth and job opportunities. There are many interesting and successful examples, but there is still great potential,” said Gabriel.

“I invite Chinese investors to continue to take advantage of a modern, technologically-advanced, competitive location in the center of Europe,” he said.

He said there are opportunities for cooperation in many areas. “The greatest potential lies at the interfaces of the major challenges for both countries-in environmental protection, climate change, aging societies and urbanization.”

“The energy sector, environmental technology, health, urban and transport planning are fields to which we should pay special attention in terms of cooperation,” said Gabriel.

On the recent antitrust investigation in China, Gabriel said, “In principle, we welcome the fact that China has a modern ‘competition law’ and is consistent in applying it. An effective implementation of anti-monopoly and antitrust law is an important component of any market economy.

“However, competitive procedures should be transparent, fair and legally independent. We are therefore observing both the competitive process and the recent investigations of the German automotive industry in China.”

Carolynn Look and Laura Davis contributed to this story.