By Marzia De Giuli, Song Jian
MILAN, Italy, March 21 (Xinhua) -- Europe's share in China's investment portfolio will grow and benefit from enhanced collaboration, Ulrich Bierbaum, General Manager of Dagong Europe, the European branch of Dagong Global Credit Rating, told Xinhua in an interview on Wednesday.
Ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Europe later this month, Bierbaum said that the presence of the Chinese president in Europe was a concrete sign of "the attention that China is giving to the European market."
In a recent report, Dagong Europe said China will retain its position among largest foreign direct investors in the world, and will deepen investments in Europe.
"The first-in-history investment agreement between China and the European Union (EU) would be extremely positive because it would contribute to an harmonization of certain rules of play across the different European countries to have a unified approach in regulation," he said.
The first round of negotiations for the agreement has started in Beijing in January with the aim to boost bilateral investment growth and strengthen comprehensive strategic partnership.
With member countries having different interests and many industries each with its own dynamic, the EU is a more fragmented market compared for example to the U.S., Bierbaum explained to Xinhua. "The agreement would help China talk to one block on the other side," he underlined.
Mutual understanding was the keyword in relations between China and Europe, which are two major civilizations and markets in today's world, he said.
One of the things where two different parts need to understand each other, Bierbaum pointed out, was "sufficient trust." "When there is a willingness to work together and see the benefits of joining forces, I think the hurdles in terms of legal and rights protection can also be overcome," he said.
In fact, Bierbaum added, there were already many positive cases of Chinese companies investing in Europe. "The way Chinese investors are approaching and acquiring stakes is a successful story, yet on small scale, but I am very convinced that there would be larger acquisitions coming in the future," he highlighted.
The general manager explained to Xinhua that Dagong Europe's mission was to assist Chinese investors to better understand the European landscape by monitoring and uncovering credit risks in European companies, banks and financial institutions.
"The problem for Chinese investors is making sure that before they make a move they have really well understood the particular situation of the market, and that is where Dagong Europe wants to come into play," he said.
In light of its fast economic, social and demographic development, China will have to provide more products and services to meet the new needs of the growing number people living on higher income levels, Bierbaum noted. Therefore, focus on high-tech and value-added sectors, from the healthcare and pharmaceutical to the automotive industries, will drive China's investments to Europe, he added.
Dagong Europe was established in Milan in 2012 as the result of a Sino-Italian joint venture between Dagong Global Credit Rating and Mandarin Capital Partners, a private equity fund by institutional investors. It was the first Asian rating company operating in the EU, under and compliant to the European framework regulated by ESMA.