Friday, April 22, 2005

Go East! - or, as an exception, West!

Normally, my message is - Go East, that's were the action in the decades to come is likely to be.

The East of Europe and the East of Asia. That's were the European and global economy is being reshaped.

But in the next few days my message will be Go West!. But it's the West of China that is at the centre of this.

In Chongqing by the mighty Yangtse river in the the very southwest of China there will be a major meetings of central and regional government officials as well as foreign investors of different sorts in order to highlight the potential of western China.

The motives are numerous. One is to try to relieve some of the overheating in the crowded coastal and southern cities. What is developing there is starting to look like a classical bubble economy.

Another motive is of course to offer better possibilities to the less developed inner regions of China. This is important in order to prevent different social and political tensions from building up too strongly.

Chongqing and the app 30 million people that live in that region already has an impressive industrial record. I'm told - but has yet to check - that most of the Japan-branded motorcycles we see around the world actually have their origin there. And I would not be surprised to find a couple of Swedish brands among the producers there as well.

But there are also major problems. Pollution from old heavy industries is one. The shortage of different raw materials and consequential upwards pressure on prices another. Add to this all the uncertainties of corruption and lack of the clear rule of the law that remains one of the hallmarks of China.

I'll be there to speak about the role of China in the rapid changes we are now seeing in the global economy.

And from there I return to my more familiar slogan Go East.

Then I'm heading to Vilnius in Lithuania to speak about the transformation of the three Baltic countries from slaves under Soviet occupation to tigers in the changing new European economy.