Shoppers examine toys at an Ikea store in Kunming, Yunnan province. (PHOTO/CHINA NEWS SERVICE)
The prospects for economic and trade cooperation between China and Sweden are broad, said Ludvig Nilsson, chairman of the Swedish Chamber of Commerce in China, with sustainable development forming one big business opportunity for Swedish enterprises that operate in the country.
Nilsson said Swedish companies that have been in China for many years have demonstrated their long-term and unswerving commitment to the Chinese market, and are upbeat about the country's growth potential.
"As long as the economy is growing, there will be more demand for high-quality products and services, and there will be opportunities for Swedish companies," Nilsson said, adding that he has full confidence in China's economic development.
The investments by Swedish companies in China, he said, have expanded from infrastructure in the past to more diversified fields, including consumer goods, fashion and environmental protection.
"A lot of our companies have very strong solutions for manufacturing in a sustainable fashion or consumption in a sustainable fashion …China also has a lot of policies to become more sustainable," he said. Therefore, Swedish companies could make use of such opportunities.
China is playing an irreplaceable role in global industrial and supply chains, Nilsson said, adding the biggest and core advantages of China's manufacturing lies in its complete industrial chains.
China is Sweden's biggest trading partner in Asia. A number of Swedish enterprises, such as Volvo, Ericsson and Ikea, have expanded their presence in the world's second-largest economy in the past decades.
Swedish truck and bus maker Scania kicked off construction of its production facility and a manufacturing base in Rugao, Jiangsu province in June 2022. The project is the company's largest overseas investment in nearly 60 years.
Mats Harborn, co-founder of the SwedCham China and president of Scania China Group, said China and Sweden are complementary, especially in terms of economy and technology. "The strengths of Swedish companies lie in the sustainable, environmentally friendly and efficient technologies, while China has gained an upper hand in digitalization, which is obviously a new trend," he said.
Harborn said the two countries have extensive cooperation opportunities in many fields, such as new energy, healthcare, architecture design, urban planning, transportation, logistics and culture.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the Swedish Chamber of Commerce in China. Nilsson said SwedCham China, which currently has 240 member companies, hopes to help its members better understand the business environment in China, provide a platform that promotes exchanges and mutual learning with other companies, and hold a series of activities like trainings and seminars.
Analysts said China and Sweden should expand economic and trade cooperation based on their effective and mutually beneficial trade and investment practices, to inject more growth momentum into both sides as well as the world economy.
Data from the Ministry of Commerce showed that foreign direct investment in the Chinese mainland, in terms of actual use, expanded 2.2 percent year-on-year to 499.46 billion yuan ($70.8 billion) in the first four months of the year. The manufacturing industry saw FDI inflow increase 4.1 percent year-on-year to 130.05 billion yuan during the January-April period, the ministry said.
The implementation of a new round of opening-up measures, such as the Foreign Investment Law, shortened negative list for market entry and pilot free trade zones have created favorable conditions for foreign businesses to invest in China, said Zhang Jianping, head of the center for regional economic cooperation at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation.
Sang Baichuan, dean of the Institute of International Economy at the University of International Business and Economics, said he expected to see greater efforts in further opening up the services sector and encouraging foreign investors to invest in both the coastal areas and central and western regions, especially in labor-intensive industries to stabilize FDI growth.