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Remarks by Ambassador Gui Congyou at the Meeting with the Östergötland Business Community

Distinguished Governor Elisabeth Nilsson,

Representatives of the Business Community,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good Morning! I'm very pleased to visit Östergötland at the invitation of Governor Nilsson. I've brought with me the sincerity to promote practical cooperation between China and Östergötland. China's Jiangsu Province and Östergötland are sister provinces, and Guangzhou City and Linköping are sister cities. In recent years, China and Östergötland as well as Linköping have focused on clean technology collaboration and conducted fruitful cooperation in various fields such as environmental protection, medical care, new materials, and education. I have always believed that China-Sweden economic and trade cooperation has great potential and broad prospects. I would like to take this opportunity to share with you some good news.

Despite unfavorable environment of persistently sluggish international trade, China-Sweden trade bucked the trend and the total volume hit a record high last year. In particular, export from Sweden to China grew by 28%. For the first time in 25 years, Sweden has shifted from deficit to surplus in trade with China, which was USD 800 million. This has fully reflected Chinese consumers' increasing interest in premium Swedish products. In China, domestic demand now contributes to 91% of economic growth and has become a decisive factor in driving economic development. By the end of this year, China is expected to surpass the United States and become the world's largest consumer market. Sweden is a world leader in innovation capability, and boasts many premium products that can meet the demand of Chinese consumers for high-quality consumption. This is an opportunity for Swedish entrepreneurs.

By the end of 2017, Sweden had invested USD 4.85 billion in China, and Chinese companies had invested USD 3.69 billion in Sweden. It is predicted that with more investment facilitation between China and Sweden, two-way investment will become more dynamic and significant in promoting trade.

Both China and Sweden firmly oppose protectionism, and are beneficiaries and firm supporters of trade and investment liberalization and facilitation. A joint effort by China and Sweden to oppose protectionism, promote economic globalization and firmly support multilateralism will not only provide strong guarantee for deepening their bilateral economic and trade relations, but also contribute to the reform of the global governance system.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This year marks the 40th anniversary of China's reform and opening up. At the opening ceremony of the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2018 not long ago, President Xi Jinping solemnly announced a series of new measures for further opening up, which has charted the course for closer cooperation between China and Sweden. President Xi Jinping emphasized that China would continue to increase openness, adopt policies to promote high-standard liberalization and facilitation of trade and investment, significantly broaden market access, and take the initiative to expand imports. This is good news for Swedish entrepreneurs.

In terms of opening up the financial industry, China will accelerate the opening-up of the insurance sector, ease restrictions on the establishment of foreign financial institutions in China and expand their business scope, and open up more areas of cooperation between Chinese and foreign financial markets. On manufacturing, China will ease as soon as possible foreign equity restrictions, especially in the automobile industry.

In terms of improving the investment environment, we will implement across the board the management system based on pre-establishment national treatment and negative list in the first six months of this year. We will enhance alignment with international economic and trade rules, increase transparency, strengthen property rights protection, uphold the rule of law, encourage competition and oppose monopoly.

It is particularly worth mentioning that China will take the initiative to expand imports. We will considerably reduce import tariffs for vehicles this year, and at the same time reduce import tariffs on some other products. China does not pursue a trade surplus, and sincerely hopes to expand imports from other countries including Sweden. I'd like to take this opportunity and sincerely invite the Östergötland businesses to participate in the first China International Import Expo which will be held in Shanghai in early November this year. The Swedish government has decided to participate in the national exhibition of the Expo, and Business Sweden will act as an organizer to coordinate the participation of Swedish enterprises. I want to emphasize that this is not just another exhibition, but marks the important policy and action of China to actively open up the market.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In 2013, President Xi Jinping proposed the important Belt and Road Initiative, which built a new platform for cooperation between China and Sweden, and more broadly the Nordic countries. The Belt and Road Initiative is first dedicated to connecting Asia, Europe and Africa, and strives to build a comprehensive, multi-level, and compound network of connectivity, so as to stimulate practical cooperation between China and other countries. China and Sweden are highly complementary in economy, and there is great potential and space for mutual cooperation. The two sides can strengthen policy communication in areas such as trade, investment and finance. We can explore new areas of trade growth, expand trade scale and promote trade flows in areas that we are good at. China stands ready to leverage its advantage in infrastructure construction, and combine it with Sweden's potential in marine transport and logistics, so as to promote connectivity between our two countries. In addition, companies of both sides can also explore cooperation in a third market.

In order to further promote bilateral mutually-beneficial cooperation, the Chinese Embassy in Sweden will cooperate with the Sweden-China Trade Council and the Swedish Environmental Research Institute to hold the China-Nordic Green Cooperation Conference in the middle of November this year. In the past two years, the Green Cooperation Conference has been successfully held twice, in which relevant industries of China and Sweden have conducted extensive and in-depth exchanges and cooperation in green energy, green transport, smart cities and green finance, and the brand effect has been highlighted. This year's conference will be expanded from China's cooperation with Sweden to the entire Nordic region, with a focus on themes such as smart cities, medical care, and pensions. We hope you will actively participate.

As you can see, more than a dozen representatives from the Chinese Chamber of Commerce in Sweden have accompanied me in my visit today. The Chinese Chamber of Commerce in Sweden was established in December 2016 and has nearly 40 member companies. In the past two years, it has played an irreplaceable role in promoting dialogue and communication between Chinese and Swedish governments and businesses and within business communities. I hope that through today's exchanges, entrepreneurs present here can build even stronger contact, discuss new cooperation projects, and promote new progress in economic and trade cooperation between our two countries.

Thank you all!

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