Vice-Premier Wu Yi raises a golden key symbolizing the opening of the Seventh CIFIT yesterday in the coastal city of Xiamen, Fujian Province.

Express staff

It has taken a little less than a year but the long
awaited Seventh China International Fair for Trade and Investment (CIFIT) opened in the port city of Xiamen in Southeast China¡¯s Fujian Province yesterday.
The festival has attracted celebrated politicians and business people from 58 countries and regions, said Ma Xiuhong, China¡¯s vicecommerce
minister, at the official opening ceremony for
the annual event.
Organized and sponsored by the Ministry of Commerce, the United Nations Conference
on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the World Association of Investment Promotion Agencies and the Fujian Provincial Government, the Seventh
CIFIT had lured 9,050 participants from across all spheres from 94 countries and regions three days ahead of its opening.
The top location in terms of attracting foreign direct investment in 2002, China is further expanding its co-operation with overseas counterparts in economics and technology.
CIFIT is the perfect opportunity for ambitious attendees from around the world to seek partnerships, meaning it plays an increasing important role in introducing overseas investment
to the country.
According to statistics from the event¡¯s organizing committee, roughly half of the small
and medium-sized foreign investment projects over the past few years have been created due to CIFIT sessions.

Express staff
For overseas participants,
the Seventh China International
Fair for Trade and Investment (CIFIT) is not only a platform
to find business opportunities, but a bridge to step into
a mysterious eastern country.
As a newcomer to CIFIT,
Swedish businessman Karlvilhelm Alexandersson, from
the Scandinavian financing and consulting company Mid Market Consulting Group AB, has changed his reconceptions about China.
¡°It is amazing to see the beautiful and dynamic city of Xiamen with its scenery being so similar to some European countries,¡± he said, having trouble taking his eyes off the
ocean, which is about 100 metres from the Xiamen International Exhibition Centre, where he was talking to Express.
¡°My target is to form a general opinion about the possibility of investment in China,¡± he said.¡°From what I¡¯ve discovered, I think the possibility is great as the country has very appealing characteristics.¡±According to Alexandersson, China¡¯s enormous size and its huge market potential are the guarantees for plenty of opportunities for overseas investors.
The Swede said before his trip, he, just like most westerners, had a very limited knowledge about China except
for a couple of huge cities like Shanghai or Beijing.
¡°When I come here, I feel and see the opportunities,¡± Alexandersson said.
In the eyes of Panagoulas Konstantinos, president of the Greece-based Konstantinos & Petros Panagoulas S.A., and his Manager Gousgounis Thomas, CIFIT offers them a chance to meet their partners.
The company has a huge
amount of contact with China given it deals in lamps, wires, cables and switches.

Express staff

Actual foreign direct investment (FDI) in China is expected to total about US$57 billion in 2003, several billion more than last year, a top inancial official said yesterday in East China¡¯s Fujian Province.
After 25 years of relentless work to encourage FDI and improve the investment environment, ¡°we now have a larger scope and a more optimized structure of FDI and the quality of FDI in China is improving
continuously,¡± said Ma Xiuhong, vice-minister of commerce.
Ma made the remarks when delivering a speech at the International Investment Forum 2003, which is part of the fourday- long China International Fair for Investment and Trade (CIFIT) in the city of Xiamen.
In 2002, China had US$52.7 billion in actual FDI, which surpassed all other nations.
In the January-July period this year, China pproved the establishment of 22,245 new foreign-funded firms, with contractual FDI totalling US$59.2 billion and the actual inflow of FDI totalling US$33.4 billion, increases of 19.13 per cent, 33.96 per cent and 26.63 percent, respectively, over the
same period last year.
To date, more than 400 of the world¡¯s top 500 companies have launched operations in China, Ma said.
With its accession to World Trade Organization, China has seen a quickly enlarged scope for investment and has further optimized its FDI structure.
In 2002, the foreign-invested computer application service increased by 125 per cent compared to the previous year, together with broadcasting and television programming, which were up 50 per cent, the distribution service, which strengthened 68 per cent and the transportation service, which rose 58
per cent.
China¡¯s market scope is also ranked among the top in the world. It is expected that the total importation of goods will hit US$1,000 billion from
2003-05, Ma noted.
At the forum, which had a theme of ¡°For a Better Investment Environment and Stronger Competitive Advantages,¡± Sergio Giroldi, CEO of the OBI Group, said China is becoming a paradise for international investors and companies.
OBI¡¯s first year purchase volume in China in 1998 was 300 million euros (US$250 million) and it has since seen double-digit growth.
¡°And we expect to achieve 1 billion euros (US$833 billion) in purchases in three to four years,¡± Giroldi said.
Robert A. Kapp, president of the US-China Business Council, said at the forum: ¡°From the standpoint of foreign investment, China is already a success
story. However, China is still facing great challenges
coming from both itself and the
outside world.¡±
For example, the country¡¯sdomestic capital accumulation
and allocation systems are not developed enough.
Less FDI would be needed if China was better able to mobilize its vast domestic savings and direct the resources to where they should be going ¡ª to companies which are capable of expanding markets and increasing employment ¡ª while remaining profitable on their own, Kapp said.
While encouraging FDI in China, China¡¯s policy of going
global has obtained good results, Ma added.
By the end of July this year, China had set up 7,222 non-financial operating organizations in over 160 countries and regions outside China.

Express¡¯ commentator muses over why our daily lives, from buying a moon cake to travelling, have become more complicated.
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Britain and Sweden send big delegations to the Fair with a view to seizing golden opportunities.
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Editorial Department of international Investment Express Tel: 86-591-780 6619 Fax: 86-591-780 6617 E-mail:
Organizing Committee of China International Fair for investment and rade Tel: 86-592-506 8420,514 6205 Tel: 86-592-506 8420, 514 6205 E-mail: 98xiamen