Chinese investment in Europe hits 46 billion euros

Beijing (dpa) – Chinese capital is increasingly flowing into Europe, soaring from virtually zero in the mid-2000s to 14 billion euros (16 billion dollars) in 2014, according to the first comprehensive study of China’s investment in Europe.

From 2000 to 2014 over 1,000 Chinese projects and acquisitions in European Union member states were worth a total of more than 46 billion euros, according to a report from The Mercator Institute for China Studies and Rhodium Group.

“We are entering a new era of Chinese capital … The first wave of Chinese capital has arrived in Europe,” according to the report seen by dpa and which will be released in Brussels on Monday.

Outbound foreign direct investment (OFDI) by Chinese companies now exceeds 100 billion dollars per year and China’s global investments are projected to triple from currently 6.4 trillion to 18 trillion dollars by 2020, the report said.

Chinese companies are increasingly investing in real estate, technology, brands and other assets in advanced economies, shifting from a previous focus on natural resources in developing countries, the report said.

In Europe, Germany is the second largest recipient of Chinese OFDI behind Britain at 1 billion to 2 billion euros per year, with Germany’s advanced manufacturing industry accounting for more than 65 per cent of Chinese investment since 2000.

China’s OFDI boom will provide benefits for Europe but China’s authoritarian political system and lack of openness to inbound FDI in China present some concerns, the report said.

The report named the asymmetry in market access between China and Europe as a major concern.

“The highest priority is to conclude a robust bilateral investment agreement that addresses the existing asymmerties,” the report said.

European leaders need to “react if the structural economic reforms promised by Beijing to address subsidies and other non-market elements that distort global competition happen slower than required by the reality of growing outbound FDI”, the report said.

“Chinese companies can move freely in Europe and choose the best investment opportunities, while in many areas in China, European companies are still sitting outside the door,” Joerg Wuttke, Chairman of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China told dpa.

“I am more pessimistic when it comes to China granting greater market access. The litmus test will be … how the bilateral investment protection agreements develop,” Wuttke said.

China had pledged to deepen economic reforms and ease market access for private investment during a meeting of its main legislative body in March.

A partnership and cooperation agreement between China and the European Union is currently under negotiation.

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