China, Spain urged to boost ties, investment

(Xinhua) 13:32, January 29, 2024

BARCELONA, Spain, Jan. 27 (Xinhua) -- Business people and officials from Spain and China are urging both countries to take steps to further strengthen their commercial ties and increase investment.

Over a hundred representatives from Chinese and Spanish businesses came together in Barcelona last week with officials such as China's ambassador to Spain, Yao Jing, to explore ways to bolster business between the two countries.

"Our mission is to try to help Chinese investors to find a target company in Spain and we also help Spanish companies to find opportunities and partners in China," Wang Bo, general manager of China Construction Bank in Europe, told Xinhua during the event.

"Since the opening up (of China) last year, more and more Chinese investors have come to Spain and we have very good connections with them," he added.

The importance of providing companies with the help they need to overcome the difficulties of moving into a new market, whether China or Spain, was reiterated by Spanish entrepreneurs with experience of doing business in China.

"We have to make it as easy as possible for Chinese companies to come here and to welcome them as well as we can," said Ramon Ceravalls, CEO of the CELO company, which has operated in China for 18 years.

"You need to see things long term, as China is not a place to do business in a hurry. You need to have a long-term vision that you believe in and, if you're persistent, in time you'll achieve success," added the CEO.

In his speech kicking off the event, Yao said China wants to attract more foreign trade and he urged Spanish firms to increase the export of goods such as wine, oil and ham, "star products that have had a good welcome by Chinese consumers."

"I am also aware that many Chinese companies are interested in purchasing large-scale machinery, and other apparatus and tools manufactured in Spain. We are looking for channels to export new Spanish products to China," he said.

An example of the type of initiative discussed during the event to boost cooperation is the China Desk in Barcelona just launched by the regional Catalan government which is staffed by locally-based Chinese people to assist companies from China looking to invest.

"The Chinese economy has grown significantly in the past three decades and will no doubt continue to do so in the future, and that's why we want China as a strategic partner to favor our mutual growth and prosperity and to seek the exchange of technology and knowledge," Minister of Business and Work, Roger Torrent, in Catalonia's regional government, told Xinhua.

The attendees called for more measures to promote greater understanding between the two countries as a key element to ensuring lasting and prosperous business connections for companies on both sides.

"The Spanish side needs to have more confidence in the Chinese economy, in Chinese businesses, so that more Spanish businesses will go to China to explore opportunities of cooperation, and the Chinese companies need to understand more about the local environment of investment, in Catalonia especially, so that more Chinese companies will come here to invest," Hu Aimin, China's acting Consul General in Barcelona, told Xinhua.

In the past 50 years, annual bilateral trade between China and Spain has risen to over 43 billion euros (46.7 billion U.S. dollars), according to the Spanish Institute for Foreign Trade (ICEX), with Chinese imports into Spain in the first half of 2023 alone amounting to 22.3 billion euros and Spanish exports to China at 3.7 billion euros.

Data from the Spain China Council Foundation says China invested 95 million euros in Spain in 2022, mostly in the energy and real estate sectors, while in the same period, Spain invested 42 million euros in China, mostly in the pharmaceutical and financial services sectors. (1 euro = 1.09 U.S. dollars)

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Liang Jun)


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