Shanghai, 5 November 2003 - On the third day of her visit to China, Minister for Foreign Affairs Benita Ferrero-Waldner today held talks with the Deputy-Mayor of Shanghai, JIANG Sixian, and opened the new Technical Centre of the Graz-based company AVL-List in Pudong. Ferrero-Waldner’s discussions with the Shanghai city government primarily focussed on economic issues, in particular the opportunities arising for Austrian companies in connection with the Shanghai EXPO. The Foreign Minister is being accompanied on her trip to China by a 55-strong business delegation, the second largest Austrian economic mission since 2001.
"In the face of a global market characterised by stiffening competition and increasingly strong players it is of eminent importance that Austria as an economically powerful country makes an effort to bundle her strengths. I have thus made it one of my tasks to create the best possible framework conditions for the Austrian export economy and am, therefore, greatly pleased that the Austrian Federal Government - together with the Austrian Chamber of Commerce - has launched an internationalisation initiative which has been endowed with EUR 50 million in federal funds", said Ferrero-Waldner in Shanghai today.
The Austrian Federal Government’s internationalisation initiative is aimed at increasing the number of Austrian exporters, the principal target group being small and medium-sized enterprises. Ferrero-Waldner, therefore, set great store by ensuring that competitive small Austrian companies are also showcased during her visit to China.
The Foreign Minister sees it as a matter of personal concern to use her visits abroad as an opportunity to establish direct links to the Austrian economy. "I have therefore 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 of gaining a business foothold in distant markets. Austrian companies abroad are often perceived as representatives of our country and make an important contribution towards propagating and preserving Austria’s good reputation in the world. This effect is enhanced in the setting of official visits that combine political talks with economic missions - a combination that reinforces the Austrian connection, which is clearly in the interest of Austrian foreign policy", continued Ferrero-Waldner.
During her talks in Shanghai the Foreign Minister was also able to draw the attention of local politicians to the economic mission accompanying her, and expressed the hope that her visit to China would enhance the readiness to overcome obstacles of a financial or economic nature.
Tomorrow Ferrero-Waldner will be inaugurating a chair of combustion engines endowed by the Graz-based company AVL-List at Shanghai’s renowned University. On Friday the Minister for Foreign Affairs will round off her visit to China in Hong Kong, conducting talks on economic issues such as the future of the Special Economic Zone with the Hong Kong Chief Executive, TUNG Chee Hwa, as well as opening a round table on environmental issues.