Luxembourg Aims to be EU Gateway for Chinese Firms
By Xinhua News Agency, 23 November 2010

Luxembourg aims at being a gateway for Chinese firms to explore the European Union (EU) markets, the country's top economic official said Tuesday.

Economic ties between China and Luxembourg were becoming "even stronger because Chinese people have discovered Luxembourg as their possible hub and possible gateway to the internal market in the EU," Minister for the Economy and Foreign Trade Jeannot Krecké said in an interview with Xinhua on the sidelines of the sixth Global Chinese Business Meeting.

Krecké said the meeting, which attracted more than 400 business leaders from China and elsewhere in the world, was the biggest event of its kind held in his country. "It is definitely a promotion for us to have so many business leaders in Luxembourg," he said.

Trade relations between China and Luxembourg have flourished in the past decade, with bilateral trade volume up from around 100 million U.S. dollars before 2002 to nearly 3.3 billion dollars in 2009 despite the international financial crisis, according to official statistics.

Krecké said the close ties between the two countries were built on a long tradition. "There is a longstanding tradition with China. We started more than a century ago when we helped Chinese steel development," he said.

Nowadays, Luxembourg has become a major hub for Chinese goods entering Europe by air. Each week, there are about 40 flights from China's mainland, Taiwan and Hong Kong to Luxembourg, according to Krecké. The goods are then dispatched to their European destinations.

Besides transit trade, Luxembourg, a leading financial center of Europe, is searching for cooperation opportunities with Chinese companies in some new areas, notably financial services.

"We have many banks here. We have really a lot of know-how in this area," Krecké said. Several top Chinese banks, including the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and Bank of China, have already opened branches in Luxembourg.

Krecké said his country is providing assistance to Shanghai in the Chinese city's bid to become a top global financial center in the coming years. "We are contributing to them. We are working together with the (Chinese) central bank and also with banks here," he said.