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Liechtenstein targets China for private wealth management

Updated: 2013-11-18 07:40
By Wei Tian in Shanghai ( China Daily)

Liechtenstein targets China for private wealth management
While tourism is the mainstay of Liechtenstein's ties with China, economic relations between the two countries have also been making steady progress. [Photo / Provided to China Daily]

Although it is the sixth-smallest country in the world, Liechtenstein has big dreams of attracting more tourists and other business from China.

Private wealth management in China would be the main focus for the tiny, landlocked, European nation. Nestled between Switzerland and Austria, Liechtenstein is anticipating healthy interest from wealthy Chinese customers because of its diversified asset management products.

While tourism is the mainstay of Liechtenstein's ties with China, economic relations have also been making steady progress. China is the second-largest economy in the world, but still has a low per capita income, while Liechtenstein, which has the world's second-highest GDP per capita in the world, is only the size of a Chinese township.

According to data provided by Swiss authorities, direct goods exports from Liechtenstein to China amounted to 225 million Swiss francs ($230 million) in 2012, while the European country imported 97 million Swiss francs of goods from China.

China was the fifth-largest sales destination for the European nation in 2011 and has been steadily climbing since then, says Joseph Beck, general manager of the Liechtenstein Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

"The real import volume from China would be much higher if we include the Chinese goods that are shipped via Switzerland," Beck says.

Liechtenstein has a customs alliance with Switzerland and is also a member of the European Economic Area, enabling it to benefit from both frameworks. Banking on its close ties with Switzerland, Liechtenstein will also seek to cash in on the recent free trade agreement between China and Switzerland.

"We are looking for more links with the outside world because our domestic market is very small. China is an important external market for us," says Prince Alois, the regent of Liechtenstein.

"The China-Switzerland Free Trade Agreement will benefit companies from Liechtenstein that have units in China, because we are partly included in this agreement."

The European nation has approximately 4,000 businesses, roughly translating to one business for every nine inhabitants. The industrial sector accounts for nearly 40 percent of its workforce and produces the same percentage of GDP, higher than the financial (27 percent) and service sector (27 percent).

Many leading global brands such as Hilti Corp, ThyssenKrupp Presta AG, and Swarovski, have either headquartered or key facilities in Liechtenstein. Nine LCCI members have created more than 2,400 job opportunities on the Chinese mainland and in Hong Kong, say chamber officials.

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