Little China in Hamburg | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 14.04.2002
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Little China in Hamburg

More than half of trade between Germany and China passes the North German city of Hamburg's harbour.


Chinese ships - laden with goods - are a welcome sight in Germany

A container full of 800 air conditioners is offloaded at Hamburg harbour - just one of thousands coming from China, later to be passed on to the Ukraine.

At current, more than half of trade between Germany and China passes the harbour in Hamburg.

"Regular dialog"

Thirty years ago, China and Germany took up diplomatic relations and entered into a so-called "regular dialog".

Meanwhile, Germany has become China's largest trading partner in Europe. According to Chinese figures, German investment projects in China currently total $13.4 billion.

This "regular dialog" is proving highly profitable for the North German city of Hamburg.

A promising future

The Chinese shipping company COSCO has used Hamburg as its base for European trade for the past ten years.

According to Shi Meisi, COSCO’s Europe Vice President, German-Chinese trade has a promising future due to Germany’s current healthy relationship with China.

Stefan Matz, from Hamburg Business Promotion has equally high hopes for the future.

In order to make Hamburg more attractive for Chinese firms, the city pays a six month rebate on new firms’ office rent. Matz also has plans to create a Chinese cultural centre with shops, restaraunts and a Chinese school.

According to Matz, the North German city is hoping to bring the various firms operating in Hamburg together by opening a Chinese centre near the harbour.

"It's an important part of our vision because we say this will make people recognise us better", he says. "They can say - this is China in Hamburg!".

There are 230 Chinese companies in Hamburg at current, a figure which rises by around 20 each year.

Another branch which profits from the boom in Chinese firms is the concerning legal matters - lawyers and attorneys.

Hamburg attorney Axel Neelmeier has been specializing in Chinese business for 18 years, helping with rental contracts, when property is bought and setting up contracts.

Assistance is required on both sides, as Chinese and Germans have varying attitudes to the law. According to Legal Advisor Dr. Ma Lin, "The Chinese are more flexible than the Germans. They interpret the law more broadly in negotiations or in how they implement a contract."

Trade between Germany and China still faces some obstacles, but the Chinese still have one advantage. Everything that they send to Hamburg’s quaysides is many times cheaper than goods made in western countries.

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