Beijing, 4 November 2003 - On the second day of her visit to China, Minister for Foreign Affairs Benita Ferrero-Waldner today joined the Chairman of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT), Mr. WAN Jifei, to officially open the Round Table for the Austrian economic delegation accompanying her on her visit. The economic delegation comprises 53 company representatives and is the largest Austrian economic delegation to visit China since 2001. In her opening speech Ferrero-Waldner explained that China today is one of the most important markets for Austrian goods and already ranks second behind the USA among Austria’s overseas export markets.
Austro-Chinese trade relations have reaped above-average benefits from the positive development of the Chinese economy. In 2002 Austria imported goods with a value of EUR 1.4 billion (+3.3 %) from China, with Austrian exports to China reaching EUR 1.17 billion (+38.6 %). The balance of trade deficit on the Austrian side thus amounted to just EUR 234.7 million, as compared to EUR 515 million in 2001.
Ferrero-Waldner described machinery, industrial plant and vehicles, which account for around 70% of exports, as the "pillars of Austria’s export business" to China. The major exports within the machinery and industrial plant segment are plant and machinery for iron and steel production and processing, fuel processing, paper manufacture, energy production and distribution and environmental protection, especially waste water treatment, while the emphasis in the vehicles segment is on special vehicles, vehicle components and deliveries to the Chinese railways. Austria’s imports from China primarily consist of consumer goods, but also electronics and metal goods.
"China’s accession to the WTO and the concomitant obligation to facilitate market access will open up new medium and long-term business opportunities for Austrian companies. In the investment goods sector this particularly applies to chemicals, machinery and industrial plant, for instance in the metallurgical and wood processing industries, as well as in the areas of water-saving technology, transport, energy, raw materials, environmental protection and high technology. The Chinese market is regularly serviced by approximately 300 medium-sized Austrian industrial enterprises. More than 50 Austrian companies already operate production facilities in China, of which approximately 15 are meanwhile under 100 % Austrian ownership. In total, over 150 Austrian companies are active in China, either with their own offices and operational facilities or within the scope of joint ventures", stated Ferrero-Waldner.
Today Ferrero-Waldner also presented FENG Jicai’s "Salzburg Book" at the residence of the Austrian Ambassador. In his book, the author not only deals with clichés like Mozartkugeln and "The Sound of Music", but also describes everyday life in Salzburg with its combination of modernity and awareness of tradition.
Before departing on her onward journey to Shanghai today the Minister for Foreign Affairs met for talks with her personal friend and former Chinese Foreign Minister, State Councillor TANG Jiaxuan, and Prime Minister WEN Jiabao. Tomorrow Ferrero-Waldner will hold talks with Deputy-Mayor JIANG Sixian in Shanghai, as well as open the new technical centre of the Graz-based company AVL-List in Pudong.