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Growing hub for Chinese firms in Germany

By Tuo Yannan (China Daily)

09:22, May 28, 2013

Visitors at the China booth at the CeBIT digital IT and telecom trade fair, in Hanover, Germany, in March 2012.(Xinhua / Ma Ning)

Duesseldorf isn't exactly the first destination that springs to mind when you think of Chinese enterprises in Europe.

But the capital city of Germany's North Rhine-Westphalia state is not only an important investment destination, but also a vital gateway for Chinese companies into the continent.

According to estimates, there are around 800 Chinese companies in the state, predominantly in Duesseldorf and Cologne.

Petra Wassner, chief executive officer of NRW.INVEST, the state's economic development agency, said that with a gross domestic product of around 582 billion euros ($753.4 billion), it has become an important beacon of economic investment.

It generates around 22 percent of German GDP, and about 4.5 percent of the European Union's overall output.

"At 27.1 percent (worth 189.8 billion euros) the state recorded the highest direct investment share of all 16 federal states in Germany at the end of 2010," Wassner said.

"Although around 1,000 companies from North Rhine-Westphalia have invested in China during the past 10 years, it is Chinese investment in North Rhine-Westphalia that has been more eye-catching," she said.

Both Duesseldorf and Cologne are often seen as ideal conduits for Chinese companies seeking access to the vast European market.

Annette Klerks, head of the Department for International Business Service and head of the China Competence Center Duesseldorf, said that a decade ago there were only 50 Chinese companies in Duesseldorf, and the number of local companies that could provide services to these Chinese enterprises were limited to just a few.

However, the number of Chinese companies has climbed to around 300, and every year the city receives an average of 20 new members of its own Chinese business society.

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