South China Chapter

The opening and development of the South China Chapter

Opening of the South China Chapter

This is a press release published on the European Chamber’s website in 2006 to announce the opening of the new chapter in South China.

The European Trade Commissioner Mr Peter Mandelson (centre) and the European Union (EU) Ambassador to China Mr Serge Abou (far left) officially launched, on 5th June, the Pearl River Delta (the South China Chapter was originally called the Pearl River Delta Chapter) Chapter of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China. The Pearl River Delta represents China’s manufacturing pillar in the sectors of electronics and information equipment, textiles, automotive, energy and chemicals, together with its developing service sectors such as finance, logistics and transportation.

The opening of the Pearl River Delta Chapter shows that the Chamber is extremely committed to enhancing EU-China dialogue and to improving the business environment at a local level. The cluster-based system formed by Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Dongguan, Foshan, Huizhou, Jiangmen, Zhaoqing, Zhongshan and Zhuhai truly represents the biggest and most concrete example of China’s economic reform, and European companies are among the main supporters of this achievement,” said European Chamber President Janssens de Varebeke in his opening speech. The opening ceremony was held with significant attendance of European-invested companies operating in Guangdong.

Before the opening dinner, Commissioner Mandelson held a meeting with representatives of the EU diplomatic corp based in Guangzhou, led by the Finnish Consul General Mr Hannu Toivola, and representatives of the European business community. The discussion covered investment opportunities, intellectual property rights, energy, government procurement, logistics, infrastructure and corporate social responsibility. Special mention was also made regarding the investments and operations of European small and medium-sized enterprises in this region. The Guangdong Department of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation, and the Guangdong Chamber of Commerce, also welcomed the new presence of the European Chamber in the Pearl River Delta area. The new office will become a focal point for many European enterprises and, in its role of facilitator of business and dialogue, it will directly contribute to the enhancement of EU–China relations.

European Chamber press release

Director SUN Bin, Board of Investment Promotion, Department of Commerce, Guangdong Province

Q: What’s your favourite memory of the European Chamber?

SB: The European Chamber is an important partner for us. What impresses us most is that, since 2017, the Guangdong Provincial Department of Commerce and the European Chamber have jointly organised the China (Guangdong)-Europe Investment and Innovation Cooperation Conference for three consecutive years, in which the Chamber played an important role in inviting European business and organising activities. During this period, we also witnessed the continuous improvement of the European Chamber, increase of its member enterprises and expansion of its influence.

What role do you expect the European Chamber to take in the next 20 years?

Firstly, I hope that the Chamber will become a ‘bridge’ for European enterprises to contact government agencies and carry out communication and coordination with government departments at all levels.

Secondly, to become the ‘link’ between and strengthen the understanding and cooperation between European enterprises. Thirdly, to become a ‘window’ for information transmission—introducing Guangdong’s investment environment, various policies and achievements in economic construction to European enterprises promptly—and playing an active role in the international economic cooperation between the European Union and Guangdong, and even China.

South China Local Position Papers

The European Chamber South China Chapter has so far produced two local position papers; the first in 2015/2016 and the second in 2019/2020. The South China Chapter has two offices; the first opened in Guangzhou in 2006 and the second in Shenzhen in 2007. Given the fact that Guangdong Province has been the leading Chinese province in terms of gross domestic product (GDP) for the past 30 years, the need for a European Chamber chapter in the region is self-evident.

The need for local position papers from the South China Chapter also became apparent. As the then chair, Alberto Vettoretti, said in his foreword to the South China Position Paper 2015/2016:

“a somewhat laissez-faire attitude and the unrestricted and uneven economic development across the province has made Guangdong’s success story an unequal and unsustainable one.”

Alberto Vettoretti, Chair’s Foreword, South China Position Paper 2015/2016

Both position papers urged the local authorities to work on developing the practical skills of graduates and provide apprenticeship opportunities in order for South China to be able to convert itself from the ‘world factory’ into a world-class centre of innovation and high-tech business. They also recommended that South China maintain its reputation as China’s ‘window to the world’ by facilitating market entry for foreign enterprises interested in investing in the region.