Freight trains connecting Europe and China along the "New Silk Road" railway had enormous potential that would be fully tapped, according to a minister from the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW).
"This opens new opportunities for business cooperation not only for NRW, but also for other parts of the country, Western Europe and China," Economic Affairs, Energy and Industry Minister Garrelt Duin told Xinhua in a written interview.
The international railway originates from the southwestern city of Chongqing in China, crosses the border into Kazakhstan at Alashankou, and passes through Russia, Belarus and Poland before reaching its terminus in Duisburg, a western German city in NRW's Ruhr area. The railway is named "Yu New Europe railway," also referred to as the "New Silk Road."
Duisburg is right at the heart of Europe, through which major transport corridors from north, south, east and west Europe pass. The "Yu New Europe railway" cuts the five-week shipping time of the past to only about two weeks, Duin said.
"In order to fully tap the potential, we will use all our communication channels to inform the business community," he said.
NRW had witnessed a boom in Chinese investment, Duin said. As a result of the rapid growth of China's economy, some 800 Chinese companies, including many multinational corporations, are based in NRW today, compared to 100 in 2003.
Chinese investors had created and secured about 8,000 jobs in the state and brought capital, new ideas, products, procedures and methods, he said.
Economic relations between NRW and China date back to the early 1980s.
"We are happy we took this step at an early stage," Duin said, adding it was no coincidence NRW was the top location for Chinese investors in Germany now.
Duin led a delegation to China last October and was impressed by its transportation infrastructure, including a well-developed rail network and international airports.
"The growth of the Chinese economy over the past decades has been one of the miracles of modern economic development," Duin said. "Nevertheless, it is still on the way to becoming the world's leading economy."
The rapid economic growth brought prosperity to China, but at the same time, it also led to many problems, which were "well identified and approached" in China, Duin argued.
"The Chinese leadership apparently focuses not on quantitative growth but on qualitative and sustainable growth for future development," he said.
Duin sees the market, infrastructure, qualified workforce and subsidies as factors attracting foreign investment there. Through its representative offices in Nanjing, Shanghai and Beijing, NRW's state-owned economic development agency provides Chinese companies with information about the state as a business location, its investment climate, legal and social conditions and market opportunities.
Chinese companies have focused on mergers and acquisitions in Germany since 2010. "As a rule, these are strategic acquisitions designed to continue product lines and secure jobs," he said.
Chinese investors will get more involved in Germany and Europe, according to Duin.