The Invest in Sweden Agency (ISA), a government body responsible to the country’s Foreign Ministry, provides a comprehensive set of services to Chinese firms investing in Sweden.
After identifying Chinese companies that may be able to make investments in the country, the agency recruits them and helps them find Swedish targets. In one case it even helped a Chinese firm define its own business proposal.
"We’re very hands on," said Eddie Chen, director of ISA China.
When a decision to invest has been made, ISA assists with the establishment of Swedish operations. This typically involves giving advice on how to navigate the local regulatory environment and how to deal with human resources issues.
Thus far, the efforts seem to have borne some fruit. In 2007, China was the largest source of venture capital handled by ISA, making up 32 of 193 projects, and approximately 150 Chinese companies have set up operations in Sweden.
Investments have come in a variety of sectors: a joint venture in biofuels, a licensing partnership in pharmaceuticals, and R&D centers for wireless telecommunications, to name but a few.
Notable clients include Huawei, China Unicom, ZTE, Guangdong Lantai Viewland and China State Grid Corp. However, it tends to be the less high-profile names that need the most help. Adherence to Swedish safety standards in construction work is a particular challenge.
Hangzhou-based Fanerdun Group, which decided to build a trade market with exhibition space for Chinese wholesalers in southern Sweden, and Dragon Gate, a China-themed US$20 billion hotel and conference center near Stockholm, were both plagued by disagreements over safety standards.