Mr. Alberto Vettoretti is the Chairman of South China Chapter of European Chamber of Commerce of China. Recently, he accepted the invitation of an exclusive interview with Newsgd.com, discussing about the European companies running business in China. The interview is edited for length. [Full Interview]
Newsgd: President Xi met with Internet giants in US and discussed about cooperation and cyber-security during his state visit in August. What can we expect from the cyber cooperation between China and EU?
Vettoretti: We are striving to have a level-playing ground for all European, US and Chinese companies. If there are some good joint efforts done by the US and China, EU will pretty much welcome this. Let’s not forget Europe and China are working on this comprehensive investment agreements, which will be the largest piece of agreements the EU have drafted so far, which will going to address the pace and the opening of bilateral investment in the years ahead.
So if there’s already been good development have been done of these specific sectors on IT and cyber-theft with the US, I think we can only elaborate and doing a much better job also in this agreement.
Newsgd: Are there any EU companies investing in sectors like Internet+ or e-commerce?
Vettoretti: Internet finance is a very new and interesting area. I can’t say European companies just yet have invested massively in this sector in the Pearl River Delta. However, looking forward and seeing what happening to traditional banking sectors, Internet finance is going to be massive in the future.
China has almost 100 million internet users (Editor’s note: according to China Internet Network Information Center, China has 668 million netizens as of July 23), about 60% of which shop online. So, if you want to tackle that market beyond traditional channels for normal banking arrangement, I think there will be a huge market.
Newsgd: Did the recent devaluation of RMB affect EU corps in Guangdong? How did they react after the devaluation?
Vettoretti: The one in China, I should say it was a bit of expected. We are not expected so suddenly, but it’s something that industry was ready for.
It was a bit of a fresh air into the exporting enterprises which indeed have been suffering a little bit. Export from China has been down, as well as input. So we’ve seen some members into the luxury sector, into the local distribution sector suffering a bit more, because buy-in Renminbi now means you need to pay more for inputs.
But we don’t see this is a major block into the economy development of China. We actually see this as a positive step towards the internationalization to the RMB which is also been pushed by the pilot free trade zone, the Asian Investment Bank as well as the One Belt One Road Initiatives. All are going towards the same direction, which is making the RMB an international currency.
Newsgd: Are the European companies in China interested in the One Belt One Road Initiatives?
Vettoretti: We see this as a wonderful opportunity to European companies. The local government will push local Chinese companies through the special economic zones to go beyond China borders. In term of investment, outbound investment is going to be huge in the years ahead. And this One Belt One Road Initiatives is going to touch upon 5 billion people, 60 countries.
So we hope, on the local companies, here in Guangdong, as well as those which are going to be directly touched in all these other countries to be part of this initiative.
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