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18 April 2017 - Merle Burghart

Bremen's twin city: from one port to another

Investing in Bremen

Understanding the friendship between Bremen and Dalian, China

Friendship is like a fine wine: the longer it lasts, the more precious it becomes. This particular friendship began in April 1985, when Hans Koschnick, the mayor of Bremen at the time, and his counterpart Wei Fuhai signed a twinning agreement that would create the basis for a steadily growing partnership between the two cities.

National flag China
Bremen und Dalian celebrated their thirty-year anniversary as twin cities in © Stock photo

Looking to the West: two port cities with a shared focus

It takes over 16 hours to fly between Bremen and Dalian, so why have the two cities struck up a partnership? Communication and cooperation are key aims of twinning arrangements of this kind. Whether economic or cultural in nature, they always seek to positively benefit both cities, encouraging them to mutually strengthen and support one another.


China began to open up to the West in the 1980s, stretching out its feelers and making contact with Europe. Today, Germany is China's main economic partner on the continent. The similarities of the two nations and their cities have brought them together – like Bremen, Dalian has a long history of international trade to draw upon. Textiles, food processing and port industries are just as much driving economic forces in Dalian as they are here.


The advantages of being Dalian's twin city

In order to strengthen trade links between Bremen and China even further, in 2003 Bremeninvest opened an office in Shanghai, which is also responsible for the catchment area of Dalian. Since then, Bremeninvest has welcomed more than 120 new enterprises from China that have taken up residence in Bremen. The steadily rising numbers have also been good news for the tourist industry and the property sector.


The 2016 FDI report from Germany Trade and Invest shows just how profitable the friendly relations have been – no country has established more businesses in Bremen than China. More than 28 per cent of the direct investments in Bremen that took place in 2015 came from the People's Republic. An infographic summarising foreign direct investments in Bremen can be found here.

Chinese delegation visits Bremen
Wang Yue, the vice-president of the Dalian People's Congress, and Dong Zhenming, the head of CCPIT Dalian, on a visit to Bremen © Bremeninvest

A blossoming friendship

Of course, a friendship of this kind cannot be sustained by contracts alone, and so economic and political delegations regularly meet in both Dalian and Bremen. Wang Yue, the vice-president of the Dalian People's Congress, and Dong Zhenming, the head of the CCPIT in Dalian, both paid a visit to Bremen in September 2016, accompanied by political and economic advisors. The CCPIT is China's Council for the Promotion of International Trade, and its branch in Dalian serves as the ultimate authority for the region's international chamber of commerce. The delegation visited Bremen's state parliament and held cooperation talks with Bremeninvest, the Senator for Economic Affairs, Labour and Ports, and the Bremen Chamber of Commerce. The topics of discussion included participation in the Shiptec World Maritime Fair in Dalian, which takes place every two years and is one of the largest maritime exhibitions in northern China.


Benefits for students

Many of Bremen's other institutions have become involved in the partnership over time. Besides Bremeninvest and the Chamber of Commerce, firms such as China Dialog and Airbus Defence & Space have helped to grow the relationship between Bremen and Dalian.


It is not just companies that participate in this exchange, but higher education institutions as well. The business faculty at the Bremen University of Applied Sciences has been cooperating with the Dalian University of Foreign Languages since the 1980s. The former's China Centre of Excellence actively encourages cooperation between China and Bremen and offers business studies courses with a focus on China. The University of Bremen also maintains close links with the Dalian Maritime University, and the two institutions have signed a memorandum of understanding. Exchanges between students and lecturers are among the many benefits that have resulted from the partnership.


The German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) in Bremen and the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials (IFAM) are collaborating with Chinese partners in Dalian on a joint project by the name of DaBrEM (Dalian - Bremen Electric Mobility), which aims to develop innovative mobility concepts for urban spaces. The project aims to create a sustainable form of city and transport planning.


Bremeninvest – here for you, wherever you are

Bremeninvest, the international brand of Wirtschaftsförderung Bremen (WFB), has established field offices in its key countries of Turkey, China and the USA. Bremeninvest conducts strategic advertising in these locations to promote foreign direct investments in Bremen.


Our key contacts for Chinese companies in Bremen are Matthias Hempen, Tel.: +49 (0)421 9600 127, matthias.hempen@wfb-bremen.de, and Karin Noetzel, Tel.: +49 (0)421 9600 122, karin.noetzel@wfb-bremen.de.


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