The Slovenia Times

Chinese Investment Need not be Feared



The Port of Koper always excites interest and debate about its future with investors and traders from all over the world watching carefully for any significant developments. Chinese investors are just as interested says Ren Hongbin, Executive Vice President of the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation (CAITEC).

Is there any interest from Chinese companies to use the Port of Koper to export their products into Europe?

Actually, there are two aspects to the interest of Chinese companies in the Port of Koper. When I was economic and commercial counselor of the Chinese Embassy in Hungary, many Chinese companies shipped their freight through Koper to Hungary, the Czech Republic and other inland countries. The European Union is the largest trading partner for China, the trade volume is growing fast and Hamburg and Rotterdam ports are becoming very crowded. The cost there is increasing and also they can't manage the shipments on time due to overcrowding. So Chinese exporters have to find another alternative port and I think from the trade point of view, the Port of Koper is very important for Chinese traders. There is the demand from Chinese traders and the Port of Koper is there, the level of infrastructure and the service is not so solid when compared to Hamburg for example, even though the cost is lower. 

The other aspect is investment. We bought a Greek port several years ago and we have also invested in infrastructure in other ports there.

One of the biggest Chinese companies, Landbridge, is taking construction abroad. They investigated the Port of Koper and found that the conditions for construction there are very complicated because of the many curves. I think the government should do something to prepare some conditions for upcoming investors. For example, it could give preferential policies for investors from China.

How do you think the Port of Koper compares to other ports in the area such as Trieste in Italy or Rijeka in Croatia?

We use Rijeka port minimally - our traders mainly use the Port of Koper because, to them, the service in Koper is better. As for Trieste, Koper can't compete with it. We do use the Italian port alot because the market is very big. The trade volume between China and the whole CEE region (16 countries) equals the trade volume between China and Italy alone.

Slovenia has a good reputation in new technology innovation.  Do you see any opportunities in China in this area for Slovenian companies?

Speaking about investment, I think the government should shoulder the responsibility, not the companies. Trade is made by the companies; they have to explore the market. However, the government should prepare the prerequisite for prospective investors. Open-minded awareness is very important for the whole of Europe toward Chinese investment. It's quite strange for me because I have spent a number of years in this region and I always try to convince Europeans that Chinese investment is much safer than (the investment) from other countries such as Japan and the USA because the Chinese obey the rules. If you look at Chinese investment in Europe you will find that they are the example of how to obey local rules and also, one of the very important factors, is that localisation is the only way for Chinese investment here.

At the FDI Summit you were talking about Collective Chinese investment in terms of high tech. What do you mean by that?

Our Premier (of the People's Republic of China) announced '12 Measures' to promote the friendly cooperation between China and CEE countries. One of the measures is to jointly set up Economic and Technology zones. Over the next 5 years, Chinese companies are expected to establish one economic and trade zone in each of these countries. So if a Chinese company would like to establish such a zone in Slovenia, the Slovenian government should guide the company as to where it should invest. In China we have a lot of high-tech companies and they know how to establish an operation but the local government should guide them and give them tailor-made preferential policies - at least initially.


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