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Trade - Bernard Hagen, 13 October 2009

Swiss Technologies Participate in China’s Infrastructure Development



Bernard Hagen
» About this writer

Railways, airports, hospitals, schools – China is increasing its investments in infrastructure development sharply. Many Swiss companies are already benefiting and more can play an active role in projects related to environmental technologies. In August, Swiss exports to China went up by 19.4% year-on-year, while those to the EU declined by 13.7%

China plans to build 2 000 hospitals in the coming 3 years and to double its railway investments in 2009 to 60 billion Euro (600 billion yuan) compared to the previous year, resulting in more than 5.100 km of new rails for modern high speed trains (350 km/h). This is part of the stimulus plan announced a year ago which in addition to government direct investments, is generating the emission of 1 000 Bio. Euro in new loans, in 2009 alone.

In addition to rebuilding Sichuan after the earthquake, these enormous investments include improving the infrastructure of over 2 000 schools in central and western China, 2 000 new hospitals, the revamping until 2010 of water supply systems in 2 700 counties (i.e. in 90% of Chinese rural districts), the set-up of electric vehicles infrastructure in 13 major cities and grants for R&D of 20 Bio. Euro.

China is investing massively in clean and environmental technologies, power grids, solar & wind farms, buildings insulation, roads, ports and airports, public housing and irrigation projects – the country is developing on the fast track.

And though Chinese exports are 23.4% down in August year on year, in absolute value they recently passed Germany, making China the world’s top exporter. By most predictions, the country’s GDP will also pass Japan’s in 2010 to become the second world economy.

“The Chinese government is aware of the long term costs of environmental damage to the Chinese economy and of the potential of the undeveloped inner provinces. The leadership takes the chance to accelerate the country’s development when stimulus is most needed to compensate for the lack of international growth. In 2009, 40 percent of China’s total activity will result in infrastructure development”, explains Nicolas Musy, Managing Director of Swiss Center Shanghai.

The Swiss Center Shanghai is a network of 50 members and sponsors, facilitating their market entry in the Far East. It is by far the largest cluster of Swiss companies in China. “More and more Swiss companies seize the chances that China offers: Today, over 50 companies from Switzerland are involved in Chinese infrastructure projects”, reports Nicolas Musy. Nicolas Musy is convinced that technology-based, special know-how enterprises can be major winners of China’s development efforts in the years to come.

Figures show how successful Swiss enterprises are: “Most European countries have a negative trade balance with China. However, Swiss enterprises exported goods in the value of 3.2 billion Chinese yuan in August 2009, an increase of 19.4 % year-on-year. At the same time, worldwide Swiss exports declined by 14 %. In August, the trade balance with China showed a plus of 508 million yuan”, states Musy.

Sensor Technology for Railways

One of the successful Swiss enterprises in China is the Jaquet Technology Group. The company with headquarters in Basel offers speed sensors for the railway, automotive as well as textile and industrial machinery sectors. “The Chinese railway market is very important and promising for us”, states Jaquet Managing Director China, Suzy Weingarten. “On one hand, the Chinese government increases the investments into this sector rapidly; on the other, many local manufacturers do not have the technological expertise required.” The image of Swiss enterprises in China is very positive, says Weingarten: “Swiss companies are seen as highly professional enterprises with strong technological know-how.”

Swiss Doors for Bird’s Nest

“The building boom in China offers huge chances, particularly because of the governmental encouragement and the Expo 2010 in Shanghai”, agrees Christoph Gressbach, Managing Director Asia of the St. Gallen based enterprise Jansen AG. Jansen, a member of Swiss Center Shanghai, offers glazed steel doors for public buildings. “Lately, we finished a project in Suzhou, where we equipped the Taihu Lake Culture Forum with an innovative 3 700 sqm facade”, states Gressbach. Other prestigious projects were the Bird’s Nest, the National Stadium in Beijing, where Jansen installed more than 400 glazed doors with steel profiles, and the Pudong Exhibition Center in Shanghai. “The potential is enormous. While the infrastructure in the big cities is on a good level, the rest of China needs to develop”, says Gressbach. The biggest challenges are environmental issues such as clean water, air and energy saving. “95 percent of the buildings don’t have an adequate isolation – this is where Jansen sees the best chances to grow, since our systems meet high quality standards.”




About Swiss Center Shanghai (SCS): Founded in 2000 on the anniversary day of 50 years of diplomatic relations between China and Switzerland with the Presence of President Ogi, SCS is by far the largest cluster of Swiss enterprises in China. 50 members and sponsors including cantons and multinationals have contributed to its establishment. With its extended reach and long experience in business set-up and China operations management, SCS not only offers instant workshop, office and desk space, but also supports members with government relations and a broad network of experts. SCS served more than 100 companies in China – SMEs and large enterprises. The SCS and its network of experts have been instrumental in the practical set-ups of 20 production companies and more than 30 offices and distribution companies. For more information, please visit: www.swisscenters.org.

Trade

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