Shanghai Rising

In January, Robert Herzner moved to Shanghai to spearhead Germany Trade & Invest’s office. He tells Markets Germany the role his team plays to support Chinese companies realizing market opportunities by investing in Germany.

March 2019

You have been working at GTAI Shanghai for just a few weeks: what are your first impressions?

Robert Herzner: The development of Shanghai reflects China’s growing importance worldwide. The most obvious change since my first trip in 2006 is the skyline and the expansion of the subway system to become the world’s largest. As a frequent traveler and a sports enthusiast, I also appreciate the reliable high-speed railway network which enables me to go running in the woods.

What is Germany’s reputation here as an investment location?

Herzner: The E.U. is the number one location for Chinese Investors and Germany is the dominant market there. Hence, China has been the leading source of greenfield investment into Germany in recent years. We receive a great number of inquiries relating to machinery, the automotive industry, and electronics. We’re seeing a trend towards increased R&D and high-tech manufacturing, for example in e-mobility.

What do the Chinese think about Germany? Does the “Made in Germany” seal mean anything to Chinese companies?

Herzner: Typically, the Chinese associate Germany with luxury cars, soccer, and quality food products, and their image of Germany is very positive. In supermarkets, the distinctive black, red, and gold “Made in Germany” label can be seen on many products. Chinese people want quality and the cost of German products is no longer prohibitive.

Chinese companies generally are interested in German technology and predominantly in manufacturing and machinery. Gradually, they are including “Designed in” or “Made in Germany” into their own value chain, either by manufacturing or establishing an R&D center there. Profiting from German engineering and establishing products in one of the most mature markets is a pillar for global success.

»We are a key service partner«

Shanghai is Herzner’s fourth posting in east Asia after Kuala Lumpur, Taipei, and Beijing. Prior to joining GTAI, he worked with the German Chamber of Commerce in Taiwan and Malaysia for more than six years. He is a lawyer and holds an MBA.

© Photo: Rheinfoto

GTAI works closely with the German Chamber of Commerce (AHK) in Shanghai. How do investors benefit from this?

Herzner: Together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, AHK and GTAI are the main pillars of German overseas economic support. By providing for the operational and strategic demands of companies operating internationally, the AHK and GTAI form a synergy that supports companies on their path to success.

The AHK provides various services to support market entry, such as legal advice, support in sales and sourcing, office location, and trade fair facilitation. Once in the market, companies can benefit from the large local AHK network and enjoy further support in areas such as recruitment and training or corporate services. If the company then decides to take the engagement to the next level, GTAI provides tailored investment services. As representatives of the German government, GTAI has direct access to the Ministry of Economics and the Federal states, which means we can make the process of investing into Germany easier.

What do you want to achieve in 2019?

Herzner: To establish GTAI as an intermediary for Chinese public organizations engaging with Germany and increase our visibility with Chinese investors. We would like to be a key service partner, providing expertise on greenfield investments at the very first stage. In short, if there is a Chinese delegation going to Germany, I would like to be able to brief its representatives, so they can understand the market fully and what we have to offer.

Shanghai Pudong © Pixabay