Wien, 20. October 2003 Press release

Ferrero-Waldner conducts talks with the President of the Austrian Chamber of Commerce, Christoph Leitl

20.10.2003

Missions abroad as an opportunity for the Austrian economy

Vienna, 20 October 2003 - "The coordination of foreign trade and economic missions between the Austrian federal government and the Austrian Chamber of Commerce represents an important potential for the Austrian economy and I am glad that our cooperation works as well as it does", said Austrian Foreign Minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner today in her opening statement at her joint press conference with the President of the Austrian Chamber of Commerce, Christoph Leitl.

"In the face of a global market characterised by stiffening competition and increasingly strong players it is a factor of eminent importance that Austria as an economically strong country makes an effort to bundle her strengths. I have made it one of my tasks to create the best possible framework conditions for the Austrian export economy. I have repeatedly offered the representatives of Austrian enterprises the opportunity to accompany me on my visits abroad and make good use of my contacts to decision makers. Experience has shown that this is a highly efficient method," Ferrero-Waldner stated.

An economic delegation will also be accompanying the Austrian Foreign Minister on her visit to the Peoples’ Republic of China from 2 to 7 November 2003. The visit will not only be dedicated to talks with the new Chinese government, but, among other things, will also include the opening of the new technical centre of the Graz-based company AVL-List in Shanghai, the inauguration of a professorship for combustion engines at the renowned Tongji University as well as talks with the Chief Executive for Economic Issues in Hong Kong.

"China is one of the world’s major markets of the future and it is extremely important that Austria acknowledges China's key economic role with high-level visits. As a matter of fact, Austria already enjoys privileged treatment by China, a position we want to enhance," Ferrero-Waldner emphasised. The development of Austrian exports to China is a particular highlight: in 2002 Austrian deliveries to China increased by 38% to more than EUR 1.16 billion. "For structural reasons Austria maintains good political contacts to China and there is no doubt that these contacts represent excellent opportunities for the Austrian economy. It goes without saying that preparing this ground is one of the objectives of my visit to the Peoples’ Republic of China," the Foreign Minister stated. "The EU Commission’s new strategy paper on China among other things calls upon the EU Member States to reinforce the dialogue with China on bilateral trade and investment issues, as for example environmental technologies. For this reason I set great store by the fact that the economic delegation accompanying me on my visit should have environmental technologies as one of its focal points."

A further topic of today’s talks with the President of the Austrian Chamber of Commerce, Christoph Leitl, was the significance for the economy of the changes in the Austrian development cooperation programme (EZA). "I am proud to say that the Austrian development cooperation programme has never in its 30 years of history experienced as many changes setting new standards for the future as it has in the past three years: A new legal basis was created for the EZA in 2002; 2004 will witness the highest ever increase in funds made available for bilateral EZA projects; and with the spin-off of the operational implementation to the "Austrian Development Agency" (ADA) from January 2004 onwards the EZA will be optimally equipped to face new challenges in structural terms too," Ferrero-Waldner stated. "The new agency, called ADA for short, will make an effort to enhance the efficiency and flexibility of project implementation and improve cooperation with non-governmental organisations. And, above all, one of the new focal points of activities will be on the economy and development."