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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Belt and Road Initiative: How Germany Benefits from China’s Economic Growth

~ By Stephanie Spinner-König

Stephanie Spinner-König is Vice-President, Chamber of Commerce and Industry for Munich and Upper Bavaria. This is her welcome address at CEIBS 3rd Europe Forum 2017 in Munich on September 13.

“It gives me great pleasure to welcome you today on behalf of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry for Munich and Upper Bavaria to the China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) Third Europe Forum 2017.

Our Chamber building is located just around the corner from this beautiful location – but is under reconstruction until the end of next year. As the Vice President of the largest Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Germany with more than 400,000 member companies, I would be delighted to host such an event and invite our friends from China to the Munich Chamber – from 2019 on.

The Chamber is focusing on supporting the Bavarian-Chinese business-relations; and with a look into the facts, things are developing quite impressively: Last year Germany exported more than 76 billion Euros worth of goods and services to China. Imports from China totalled almost 94 billion Euros. Currently, there are more than 5,200 German companies in China, which provides more than one million jobs there. Twenty seven percent of Germany’s total exports to China and 15% of Germany’s total imports from China are from and to Bavaria. Quite remarkable keeping in mind that Bavaria is only one out of 16 states of the Federal Republic of Germany.

If Bavaria were an independent country, it would rank twentieth among the largest export nations (after Malaysia and before Switzerland) with total exports of 182 billion Euro in 2016. Vehicles, electrical products and machinery are the most important export product groups. Together they make up an export share of 65%.

We have no doubt that the Bavarian economy will continue to be an engine of growth in Germany and Europe. However, we are concerned about the rise of protectionism in countries like the US and UK. From our point of view, there is no alternative to free trade and an open economy. We also believe that the social counterpart to the system of free trade is democracy, diversity of opinion and freedom of speech.

When Brigitte Zypries, German Federal Minister of Economics and Energy, was invited to the High-Level Dialogue of the Belt and Road Forum to Beijing in May this year, she met with high-ranking officials, including President Xi Jinping. She underlined that open markets, equal treatment for foreign companies and the removal of the barriers to trade is most important for prosperity for all.

We are here today to share our vision of deeper economic ties, which can only come to full benefit under the rule of law and equal opportunities for everyone. China’s Belt and Road Initiative is a great chance to improve infrastructure between Asia and Europe - as a requirement to promote trade and investment. The Bavarian companies want to deepen the cooperation with Asia, based on true partnership, mutual benefit and a level playing field.

Today’s conference will give us the opportunity to discuss the Belt and Road Initiative and even more chances for having a win-win cooperation between Germany, Bavaria and China.

I am looking forward to having a fruitful exchange with you all today. Thank you very much.”