  Domestic exhibitors signed deals and letters of intent on 738 projects worth nearly US$15 billion, including US$12.4 billion of foreign investment, on the second day of the Ninth China International Fair for Investment and Trade (CIFIT).
   Deals were struck committing a total of US$9.8 billion, including US$8.4 billion in foreign investment, to 613 projects, with a quarter of these agreements having individual values in excess of US$10 million.
    CIFIT has so far received 10,500 overseas exhibitors and visitors from 123 countries and regions, according to statistics from the fair's organization committee.
    Fujian's delegation became the first to sign contracts in the fair's signing centre yesterday, inking 43 deals worth more than US$3.4 billion investment, including around US$1.7 billion in foreign investment.
    The delegation also signed four more letters of intent accounting for US$529 million in investment, of which US$243 million in foreign investment.
    Nine cities in the province are set to benefit from the deals, covering infrastructure, electronic communication and automobile fittings.
    The largest one is for the construction of the Xiamen-Zhangzhou cross-sea bridge, valued at US$240 million. The project was displayed again yesterday.
The Xiamen Kaige Golf Club was also a big winner, drawing US$30 million in funds for the second phase of its development.
    Chen Mingyi, Zhang Jiakun, Chen Shaorong, Yuan Rongxiang and Ye Shuangyu were among the top provincial officials present at the signing ceremony.
The delegation from Huli District, Xiamen, secured investment worth US$950 million for 168 projects on the morning on the first day, the most it has ever attracted at the fair.
    Three logistics giants chose to set up offices in Huili, including TNT and BAX Global, who are among the world's top 500 companies.
    Meanwhile, a total of 29 high-technology enterprises will set up research and development centres in the district.
    As a result of separate negotiations, the municipal government of Xiamen and the China Development Bank, a policy bank in China, signed four agreements with a combined value of 44 billion yuan (US$5.43 billion).
    The bank agreed to provide credit lines to finance the construction of three industrial parks, public facilities, and projects in the machinery, logistics, electronics, chemicals and tourism sectors.
    Yesterday morning, Anhui Province's delegation inked 20 agreements, with total investment of US$1 billion, including foreign investment of US$440 million.
    The projects cover the manufacturing, electronics, architecture materials, chemical products, real estate, and services sectors, with investors coming from the United States, China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and Taiwan Province.
    The delegation from Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region signed contracts for 38 projects, dealing with infrastructure, agriculture, textile, real estate, coal mine, food processing and tourism.
    Ten of these projects involve money from overseas, which makes up US$172 million of a total investment volume of US$179 million.
    The overseas investors come from Italy, the Uited States, Japan, South Africa, Kazakhstan and Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
    Most exhibitors are optimistic about the next two days, hoping to strike even more deals than last year.

   Delegates from Arabian, African, and ASEAN-member countries addressed several symposiums held in Xiamen International Conference and Exhibition Centre on the second day of the 2005 China International Fair for Investment and Trade (CIFIT).
   "Syria today witnesses a strong momentum for modernization and development, and we want all participants in this forum to be real partners to their Syrian counterparts in this new encouraging environment," said Ghassan Al Habash, Syrian vice-minister of trade and economy.
    "We especially call on Chinese businessmen to explore the investment opportunities available in Syria."
    He was speaking during the Sino-Arab Co-operation Forum, part of the Sino-Arab Business Seminar which was established in January 2004 when President Hu Jintao paid a visit to Egypt.
    Arabian countries, including Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Tunisia, Oman and Syria, have sent representatives to Xiamen to introduce their respective investment environments at the fair and invite Chinese businessmen to explore their markets.
    The countries have instigated economic transformation strategies with a view to improving their overall economic operations in the current climate of expanding globalization.
    According to statistics released by the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, the overall economic growth rate was 5.5 per cent for Arabian countries in 2004.
    Rising oil prices, which have gathered over the past year, were a major contributor to these countries' growing fiscal revenue and improving financial sectors.
    Arabian countries have made great efforts to open up their petroleum, natural gas, infrastructure, communication, electric power, bank, insurance, and education sectors, in order to attract investment and facilitate trade.
    They received a total of US$21 billion in foreign investment in 2004, a sign of sharper economic competitiveness,which could in turn create more opportunities for Chinese enterprises to invest and explore markets.
    Delegates from eight members of ASEAN, who began their speeches praising the long-term friendship between their countries and China, gave detailed geographic and economic presentations on their markets.
    ASEAN is an important market for China in the fields of labour and project contracts, but the two sides remain in fierce competition when it comes to attracting foreign investment, the delegates said.
    "This situation is undergoing new changes," said an ASEAN official. "ASEAN and China will undertake a new economic restructuring in a broader field so as to optimize the distribution of resources and consolidate advantages.
    "Since the co-operation objective has already been set, new co-operation will enhance the competitiveness of their local products in the international market, which will be conducive to attracting more foreign investment," the official added.
    Economic and trade co-operation between China and ASEAN countries has developed rapidly from common trade into an all-around and comprehensive mechanism.
    "Thanks to powerful promotion by the government and sub-regional economic co-operation, partnerships in science and technology, tourism, resource development, agriculture, energy, information industry and human resource training have been initiated. Investment between China and ASEAN has evolved from being one-way to being mutual," said Gao Yuanyuan, an official with the Ministry of Commerce.
    Statistics released by the Ministry showed that the number of FDI contracts signed by China reached 43,664 last year, a 6.3 per cent rise on 2004, at a total value of US$153 billion, 33.38 per cent more than the previous year.
    About 70 per cent of these contracts come from Asia, 11.3 per cent from North America and 5.6 per cent from Europe. The remaining 13.1 per cent cover Latin America, Oceania and Africa.
    In the first seven months of this year, China approved the registration of 24,652 FDI enterprises with a contractual volume of US$98.6 billion.
    Chinese investment in Sweden has gathered momentum in the past few years, according the Scandinavian country government's investment promoting agency.
    New Chinese-invested projects in Sweden assisted by Invest In Sweden Agency (ISA) are expected to total between 15 and 20 this year, said Eddie Chen, chief representative of ISA China, during an interview with the Express yesterday.
Such projects numbered 15 last year and four in 2003, when ISA's first office in China was set up.
    Chinese investment into Sweden has largely come from East China's Yangtze River Delta and covered sectors such as technology, marketing, property and manufacturing of consumer goods.
    The governments of three localities in China, meanwhile, have also set up offices in Sweden to promote trade and investment, with more expected to join this year, Chen said.
    ISA's office in China has become a major one after London, New York and Tokyo.
    Speaking of the key to success in promoting investment, Chen said that ISA came to realize soon after its inauguration in 1995 that the job itself is like doing business, given the globalization and competition.
    An investment promotion agency has to be highly professional and with a clear focus. "If you try to do everything, you are good at nothing," he said.
    It also needs to have the right goals, performance appraisal system and people. About 80 per cent of those employed by ISA, for example, come from a background in industrial sectors.
    Chen also gave his input on how the China International Fair for Investment & Trade could strike greater success.
"My suggestion is that it set a goal of becoming an international brand name in the investment promotion arena," he advised.
Chen said CIFIT has become an all-round international platform for investment and trade due to years of development and the increasing resources put in by the organizer.
    With this positive momentum and foundation, the fair needs to become more professional and focused as well as being able to attract more parties from the business circle, he said.
To provide satisfactory services for investors and projects, International Investment Express sets aside a special section aiming to make available information shared by global investment projects and investors.
Editorial Department of International Investment Express for the ninth China International Fair for Investment and Trade
Hotline: 86-591-8780 6619 Fax: 86-591-8780 6617 E-mail: fujian@chinadaily.com.cn