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China's thriving trade links with Germany defying global trends

By Zhong Nan | China Daily UK | Updated: 2017-07-08 00:13

China's thriving trade links with Germany defying global trends

Robots manufactured by Kuka AG serve drinks to visitors at the company's booth at a trade show in Hannover, Germany, in April. [Photo/Xinhua]

In the past, the phrase "Made-In-Germany" would for many Chinese consumers suggest products such as automobiles, home appliances and beer.

Today, Germany-manufactured sensors, ship engines and industrial robots are among a range of high-tech goods helping to further boost Sino-German trade to the extent that China has overtaken the United States and France as Germany's top trading partner.

In 2016, trading volumes between China and Germany reached 170 billion euros ($194 billion), according to data from Germany's Federal Statistics Office.

"The future of Chinese-German business ties will be based on trade in high-end and consumption goods, and investment in the fields of infrastructure and service projects, manufacturing and multimodal logistics business," said Zhang Yunling, director of international studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, in Beijing.

He said even though the Chinese and German economies have felt the impact of weak global demand, the degree of bilateral trade has remained stable.

"China will continue to export consumer goods in exchange for Germany's high-tech products, such as electronic products, construction machinery, vehicles and parts, and medical equipment," Ministry of Commerce spokesman Sun Jiwen said. "Most of their imports are complementary. Therefore, it isn't direct competition."

Among the German companies at the forefront of this trading boom are tech giants Siemens AG and Robert Bosch.

In March, Siemens gained orders for three gas turbines from Shanghai Orient Champion Paper Co and Hangzhou Jiande Datong Industrial Park. It established its first innovation center in intelligent manufacturing outside Germany in Qingdao, in East China's Shandong province in 2016.

Lothar Herrmann, Siemens' China president, said his group will focus on the growth areas of electrification, automation and digitalization, as well as forming partnerships with more local companies to maintain robust growth.

Bosch, another German technology and service supplier, is planning a series of ventures in China after sales in the country last year reached a record high of 91.5 billion yuan ($13.48 billion).

These include a new joint venture for gasoline engine management systems in Chongqing, an automotive electronics plant in Changzhou, Jiangsu province, and a power tools plant in Chengdu. Bosch invested 4.9 billion yuan in China last year.

Shi Yong, vice-president of Beijing-based China Machinery Industry Information Research Institute, predicts more German investment and trade activities with China.

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