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Chinese firms kick off German spending spree

AFP · 25 Feb 2009, 14:10

Published: 25 Feb 2009 14:10 GMT+01:00

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The group, accompanied by Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming, is set to splurge around €11 billion ($14 billion) on products and technology during its trip to Germany, Switzerland, Spain and Britain.

Germany hopes to snap up "a good proportion" of that sum, Jürgen Heraeus, spokesman on Chinese affairs for the Asia-Pacific Committee of German Business told AFP.

An unconfirmed report in business daily Handelsblatt said the Chinese firms were prepared to splash out more than €6 billion during the German leg of their tour.

The German companies touting for business include engineering giant Siemens, automakers Volkswagen and BMW, steel group ThyssenKrupp and Commerzbank.

On the Chinese side, representatives from major firms such as Air China and China Petrochemical International made the trip, which officials have hailed as proof of Beijing's non-protectionist stance.

"The Chinese government's organisation of the trade and investment mission to Europe comes as the world economy is facing recession due to the international financial crisis," Gao Hucheng, a vice commerce minister said Tuesday.

"It shows China's determination to open up its market and push for the revival of the world economy by strengthening cooperation with other countries in the world," Gao said in a statement.

The European Union is China's largest trading partner, its most important source for technology imports and its largest export destination, while China is the EU's second-largest trading partner.

The huge Chinese investment will come as a welcome boost to Germany's ailing economy, especially as the sectors expected to profit the most - automobiles

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and machine tools - have been amongst the hardest hit by the global slump.

Data published earlier Wednesday showed Germany's economy - Europe's largest - shrank 2.1 percent in the last three months of last year, with the slide driven mainly by a 7.3 percent slump in exports.

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