Business / Economy

Denmark to strengthen economic ties with China

(Xinhua) Updated: 2012-06-13 10:13

COPENHAGEN - Denmark is looking to China for more business opportunities and economic gains from Sino-Danish cooperation which is set to get strengthened with the upcoming state visit by Chinese President Hu Jintao.

Ten cooperation agreements will be signed during Hu's three-day visit to Denmark, which will start on Thursday, Danish Trade and Investment Minister Pia Olsen Dyhr said in a group interview with Chinese media on Tuesday.

"There are still a lot of negotiations going on. But we will, during the President's visit, sign 10 agreements between the Chinese and Danish governments and we will have a lot of companies signing specific agreements with Chinese companies," said the minister, who described the first-ever visit by a Chinese head of state to her country as a "breakthrough" in the Danish-Chinese relations.

In 1978, when China started opening up to the outside world, trade volume between Denmark and China was merely $44 million. It rose to $9.26 billion in 2011, featuring a 210-fold growth in 33 years.

As China has grown into one of the largest economies in the world, the Asian country is now the sixth largest trading partner for Denmark and "if you just look at goods, it is the biggest one outside the European Union," the minister said.

The Danish economy is very much dependent on exports as 54 percent of Danish gross domestic product comes from exports and 700,000 Danes are employed in the export sector.

"So if we didn't have trade with the BRIC countries - Brazil, Russia, India, China, the Danish economy would have been in minus," said Olsen Dyhr.

Danish companies have been very much aware there is a large market in China. From 2005 to 2009, Danish exports to China grew by 50 percent. "I am looking forward to the years 2010-15 that we can double this amount of exports to China," said the minister.

"I think it is interesting for us to look outside Europe because Europe is at zero growth or a little plus and I think we need as a country to look at the markets that are actually growing," she said, adding that Denmark expects an export growth of 20 percent to China in 2013.

The minister chose the word "hot" to describe the relationship between Denmark and China, which she said should learn from each other.

"I think we can learn from each other. There is lot of things we can, if we open our eyes, learn from each other," said Olsen Dyhr, who identified what she called "green areas" where Denmark has knowledge and advanced technologies in addition to the way her country has improved the healthcare system by having public private partnerships as something that China can learn from.

"But we can also learn from China because in fields where technology is moving rapidly, we can see the Chinese becoming one of the first movers," the minister said.

Denmark has a long-standing tradition with industrial design and Chinese companies can gain by cooperating with Danish developers, she said.

When the Chinese company Envision started cooperation with a Danish company to develop a new type of wind turbine, many Danes are a little worried that the Chinese company will just outsource the knowledge and close down the company. "But it is still there," said the Danish minister.

At present, there are 60 Chinese companies present in this Nordic country and the number is expected to be doubled within a five-year period.

The Danish government is currently considering a strategy looking at how to ensure more inward investment to Denmark as the country is lagging behind in foreign direct investment when compared with Sweden and Germany.

"The government will come out with some specific recommendation in autumn on how to move forward," Olsen Dyhr said.

During Hu's stay in Denmark, the largest Danish companies and their Chinese counterparts are scheduled to hold a forum on Friday, which will also be attended by ministers from the two countries to discuss the possibilities of and challenges for further cooperation.

"I will talk with my counterpart Chen Deming about areas where we have common interests, for example in water areas, urbanization and renewable energy, and to do that you need to have a continuous dialogue," said the minister.

She said she would continue to make trips to China in order to carry forward the dialogue.

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