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German companies finding favorable conditions out west

Updated: 2013-06-10 08:18
By Astrid Schroter ( China Daily)

German companies finding favorable conditions out west

Astrid Schrter, liaison manager responsible for Sichuan and Chongqing areas at the German Chamber of Commerce in South and Southwest China

Q+A | Astrid Schroter

Astrid Schrter, liaison manager responsible for Sichuan and Chongqing areas at the German Chamber of Commerce in South and Southwest China, sat down with China Daily reporter Xu Xiao recently to discuss the experience of German companies in Chengdu as well as their perspectives on the city.

How many years have you been in China?

I have been in China with the German Chamber of Commerce for more than three years. Before I joined the Chamber, the time is even longer. In total, now about five years. My first visit to Chengdu was in 1996.

Of all the changes you have seen in Chengdu, what impressed you the most, especially with regard to the investment environment for foreign companies?

When I was first here, I visited two German companies in 1996 and 1997. At that time, it was very rare to see some German companies here - mostly maybe three or four names here.

After that, the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15) was launched in 2011, so the biggest changes for foreign investment have accelerated in the past five years.

Now, there are many organizations, including the German Chamber of Commerce and the German Consulate General in Chengdu to provide all kinds of services and support for German companies in the country.

So it is more favorable for them to come here now.

How many German companies are there in the region, which the Chengdu office of the German Chamber of Commerce is responsible for?

We have about 150 German firms in the region that we are responsible for in Sichuan and Chongqing. In Chengdu, we have about 110 and another 40 to 50 in Chongqing.

You might be a little surprised to hear this number because mostly you hear about some 20 names or even fewer.

They come because of the potential of the market. But not all of the companies have brought their entire staff here - many have come with sales offices only.

Some 80 percent of German companies here are represented with sales offices.

What kinds of business are these companies engaged in here?

Mainly traditional German industries, such as machinery. Other major industries are the car industry, IT as well as pharmaceutical and chemical industries.

If you observe some German companies' performance after the global financial crisis, you will find that much momentum derives from the small and medium-sized companies.

What services do you provide to them?

We have mainly three pillars here. We offer advice to setting up a new firm, including market researches for a specific product or a specific industry, location-selection support and communication with industrial parks to see which one is favorable in terms of incentives and also with regard to the location of clients or potential clients of the companies.

To complement all of these, we organize investigation delegations both for German companies that want to do business here and for Chinese companies that want to seek cooperation with German ones.

So we have inbound and outbound delegation services.

The second pillar is to provide information through the different channels that we have - for example, through interviews, through our magazines, through special reports and research that we launched in different provinces and in overseas countries.

And the third part is connecting to everything that has something to do with the companies' networking opportunities.

We maintain close relationships with the local authorities as well as with the management departments of the high-tech industry zones, the city and provincial governments, the institutions below governments and foreign investors.

So when we have requirements from the German companies, we can quickly follow up with these.

Our services have a lot of features. So we can find credible information for potential clients, including Chinese customers of the German companies.