Asia powers world growth, says German minister
18 November 2004
BANGKOK – Asia is setting the pace for growth in the world’s economy said German Economic Minister Wolfgang Clement on Thursday in his opening speech in Bangkok at the 10th Asia-Pacific Conference of German Industry and Trade (APK).
The economic dynamics of the Asia-Pacific region correspond to a long-term trend and are not a passing fad, said Clement before an audience of 800.
“This must and will energise the German economy and strengthen the commitment in this region.”
Clement was confident that the goal of increasing to 20 percent German foreign trade in Asia – from the current 12 to 15 percent – would be achieved. He added that Asia remains a focus of German investment, making it an “indispensable component” of the European country’s future.
Booming China, with 1.3 billion inhabitants, will see a record in foreign direct investments this year of USD 60 billion (EUR 46 billion), replacing Japan as Germany’s most important trading partner. There are 1,800 German businesses in China.
Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s participation in the conference is the first by a world leader.
Speaking at the conference, Thaksin underlined the progress of Thailand, which calls itself the ‘Gate to Southeast Asia’. He pointed out that the foreign exchange reserves are at a new high, that the budget is balanced for the first time, and that economic growth this year is between 6 and 6.5 percent.
Chairman of the APK committee of German business, Siemens board chair Heinrich von Pierer, lauded the achievements of the 3,000 German businesses in Asia, which gained an annual turnover of approximately EUR 130 billion and employ half a million people. With growth rates between 5 and 9 percent, the area is interesting for both large and mid-sized companies, said Pierer.
Clement and von Pierer both stressed the importance of multilateral trade agreements and negotiations with the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Until such agreements can be drawn up, however, bilateral agreements between Asian countries or with the US are not a disadvantage to the German economy, according to the leaders.
The two-day conference was organised by the German-Thai Chamber of Commerce.
Subject: German news