German minister attacks 'untransparent' China

6th January 2011, Comments 0 comments

Germany's economy minister on Thursday slammed conditions for Western firms operating in China as the country's Vice Premier Li Keqiang arrived for a visit to Berlin as part of a European tour.

Li, widely tipped to be the next premier, arrived for talks with the minister, Rainer Bruederle, ahead of meetings Friday with Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle.

According to the German foreign ministry, Li will also sign contracts with companies in Europe's biggest economy including car giants Volkswagen and Daimler.

Speaking in business daily Handelsblatt, Bruederle said: "Improvements need to be made when it comes to access for German firms on the Chinese market," citing in particular the insurance and banking sectors.

"Foreign firms still complain about a lack of transparency and predictability.

"On my visit to China, I often heard complaints that important regulations were introduced suddenly and without consulting the economic players involved," the minister said.

While Chinese legislation is increasingly in line with international standards, there "are failures in implementing this legislation," especially in the provinces, Bruederle said.

He praised the Chinese authorities however for "taking our concerns seriously and seeking to improve the investment environment for foreign companies."

Following his trip to Berlin, Li goes to London.

He has already visited Madrid where he said that Beijing was willing to buy around six billion euros worth of Spanish debt, daily El Pais cited government sources as saying.

After eurozone members Greece and Ireland were forced to seek bailouts worth tens of billions of euros last year, Spain, together with Portugal, have been seen as next in line to need help in the 17-country currency union.

China and Germany are the number one and number two exporters in the world respectively.

According to Berlin's statistics, Germany exported 37.3 billion euros (48.7 billion dollars) worth of goods to China in 2009, with Chinese exports to Germany worth 56.7 billion euros.

© 2011 AFP

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