Since Chinese businesses and entrepreneurs have fostered a “go-global” attitude, a number of them are strenuously seeking access to Northern Europe in order to tap their offshore financial sectors, utilize their highly skilled and productive workforce, and to acquire their innovative technologies and groundbreaking ideas.
Invest Sweden, a Swedish government’s agency tasked with attracting offshore investments in Sweden, established a solid business relationship with the Chinese government and many Chinese business leaders.
Eddie Chen, the Invest Sweden’s vise-president, told China Daily in late September 2011 that, “Our China Office was founded in 2002, and Sweden is one of the earliest developed European countries that has set up an investment agency in China.”
In 2002, Invest Sweden and China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) signed a noticed that said both organizations are in agreement with each other, and the laws and regulations regarding the contract are transparent.
Since Invest Sweden and the NDRC signed the agreement in 2002, both organizations have been in routine contact with each other to discuss policies and two-way investments.
The establishment of the Invest Sweden agency in Shanghai has triggered waves of Chinese businesses to invest in Sweden. In only nine years, Invest Sweden has aided and consulted more than 250 Chinese businesses to invest and initiate companies in Sweden.
“About two-fifths of the investment projects are industrial, and the remainders are business-oriented; for instance, investing in real-estate and setting up operation centers,” said Mr. Chen.
Chinese businesses are aware that Sweden is a strategic location for centralized market operations in Northern Europe, and a prime choice for corporate and regional headquarters. In Sweden, business leaders and investors are not only granted access to Sweden’s economy, but they also have access to the world’s largest free-trade market--the European Union (EU). The EU consists of twenty-seven countries and more than 500 million potential customers.
The Swedish economy is renowned for its resilience in world recessions, its advanced manufacturing exporting logistics, its offshore financial service sectors, and its innovative technologies and worldwide networks. Chinese enterprises have recognized this and have made major strides in acquiring some of Sweden’s precious assets.
In early May, 2011, Hawtai Motor Group, a Chinese car manufacturer, attempted to invest over 200 million dollars in Sweden’s Saab Automobile. Hawtai was not investing in Saab to save the nearly bankrupt company, but because it wanted to have access to Saab’s technology and business connections.
Richard Zhang, vice president of Hawtai, said, “Saab brand will give Hawtai access to innovative technologies and an international network which would take decades to build.” Although the deal fell through in late May 2011, the discussions between the two companies still demonstrated the Chinese desire to heavily invest in the Swedish markets to gain access to innovative technologies and global connections.
The Sweden-China business relationships will strengthen over time. In the next twenty years, bilateral trade and investment will increase between China and Sweden. Bo Landin, chairman of Sweden-Trade Council Stockholm, said in an interview to Xinhua in 2010, “By 2020, the scope of trade and development between Sweden and China will be vastly widened.”
China’s interest in Sweden’s offshore financial sectors and productive workforce, compounded with the Swedish desire to tap into Chinese markets, will continue to strengthen the business relationships between the two nations.