Austria looks to triple Chinese investment, expand exports to China: minister

By Wang Cong Source:Global Times Published: 2018/4/11 12:18:39


Margarete Schramböck,Austrian Federal Minister for Digital and Economic Affairs Photo: Li Hao/GT

Even as some Western officials grew increasingly concerned about Chinese investments in recent months, Austrian officials have made it clear that they want to attract more Chinese companies and expand the country's exports to China. And new major announcements from China on Tuesday to further open up its market could benefit Austria, one Austrian official said.

"For Austria, we want to at least double or triple the number of Chinese investments in Austria," Margarete Schramböck, Austria's federal minister for Digital and Economic Affairs, told the Global Times in an interview on Tuesday.

Schramböck was in Beijing as part of an Austrian delegation to China this week led by President Alexander Van der Bellen. During the official visit, Chinese and Austrian companies signed a total of 30 business deals that cover a wide range of sectors, including technological innovation, e-commerce, environmental protection and railway.

Positioning her country as a potential bridge for Chinese investments in Europe, particularly Central and Eastern Europe, Schramböck said there is more growth room for Chinese investments in Austria.

"Chinese investments in Austria are still at the beginning. We can do more," she said, pointing out that Chinese investments in Austria reached 700 million euros ($864.85 million) in 2017, while Austrian investments in China were at 3.5 billion euros. "There is still room for growth. That's why we are here."

Apart from investment, Austria is also looking to expand its exports to China, with the country already standing as its largest trading partner in Asia and second-largest globally, Schramböck said.

"Austria is a very small and open economy; we have 9 million inhabitants. We are very much focused on exports. In Austria, every six out of ten euros are generated from exports," she said.

Schramböck welcomed announcements made by Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday to further open up the Chinese market.

"We heard the President wants to open China more. Of course, we are very positive about it," she said.

In a keynote address to the opening ceremony of the Boao Forum for Asia's annual meeting, Xi announced that China would ease restrictions on foreign investments in sectors such as car, reduce tariffs and increase imports.

"All of these areas are relevant to Austria," Schramböck said. 

Commenting on concerns among some European officials about Chinese investments, Schramböcksaid the EU wants to review some acquisitions cases on the basis of competition laws rather than to interfere.

"What we are looking at is cooperation. Of course, when it comes to pure acquisitions, the EU wants to have a review of foreign direct investment. It does not mean that the plan for the EU is to interfere," she said. "We are looking for common investments where we play a role and China plays a role."

She further noted that the EU's actions are not specifically targeting China. "It has nothing to do with China. It has to do with our general rules and regulations for acquisitions. And there is no difference between African investment, Asian investment and US investment."

Austria is part of the EU and is set to take over the rotating six-month presidency bloc in July.

"In that role, we will be very wise about how to improve the relationship between China and Europe," Schramböck said.





Posted in: ECONOMY

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