President Mats Harborn's Letter to Members Go back »

2017-05-16 | All chapters

President Mats Harborn's Letter to Members

Dear Members of the European Chamber 

On 12th May, I was elected President of the European Chamber. I feel honoured and humbled by the trust bestowed in me. The Chamber has established itself as an influential institution which makes a real difference in improving the business climate for European companies in China. Together with me, I have a strong team in the newly elected Executive Committee and local boards as well as our capable secretariat. I would like to thank the outgoing President, Joerg Wuttke, and the others who have successfully finished their terms in office, for establishing such a solid foundation. We will continue to build on it.

I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce myself and to give you an insight into my first few days in office. I am Swedish, have lived and worked in China in a range of industries for 25 years and have been closely involved with the important work of the Chamber for over a decade. My motivation for taking on this responsibility is the belief that we have a unique window of opportunity in the coming years to influence policy even more. China has pledged to enable market forces to play the decisive role in resource allocation – its fulfilment of this promise is now essential for the creation of sustainable economic growth. However, this can only happen if there are common rules and regulations in place which are equally applied to all market participants.

During my campaign for the position of Chamber President, I focused on three issues which will be the starting point for our work on your behalf:

  1. Advocacy for a level playing field in China.
  2. The importance of monitoring and benchmarking the innovation capacity of Chinese companies as they become more competitive.
  3. Accessibility and transparency toward Chamber members.

Taking office has been like entering a whirlwind. So much has already happened in a short period of time, including: 

  • A live panel discussion with CGTN on the launch of the Belt and Road Initiative conference, and a subsequent interview with China Daily on the same topic. During these media engagements, I highlighted the Chamber’s strong belief that the success of the initiative will largely be predicated on open markets, balanced trade and reciprocity.
  • A meeting with the staff of the Chamber to introduce myself and outline my priorities. As I favour flat organisational structures and direct communication, working directly with staff at all levels is of great importance to me.
  • A discussion on the launch of the Chamber’s new Business Confidence Survey (BCS) and ongoing work on media engagement. With the BCS event taking place on 31st May, we are moving forward immediately, and media work will continue to be one of the Chamber’s top priorities.
  • Participation in a meeting of the Environment Working Group. Our working groups are at the very core of our operations and I look forward to working closely with all of them.
  • Taking part in a meeting on engagement of our Advisory Council members. As always, the Executive Committee greatly appreciates the important financial contribution that these members make to the Chamber, and we will work to ensure that the relationship is as mutually beneficial as possible.
  • A meeting with European Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen to discuss the road ahead for Chamber members in the Chinese market. We cherish our strong working relationship with our colleagues at every level of the European Commission, both in Beijing and Brussels, and will use this crucial relationship to continue to make your voice heard.
  • Together with the Ministry of Transport’s (MOT’s) Research Institute of Highways, organised a road safety seminar for commercial vehicles. The dialogue that took place should help to pave the way for more European business in the field of transport and logistics. We also engaged in a discussion with MOT Minister Li Xiaopeng prior to this event.

My fellow Executive Committee members and I look forward to many more productive days at the Chamber working on your behalf. But we cannot do it by ourselves. I therefore ask all of you to redouble your support for the critical work of our organisation. It is my sincere belief that together, and only together, we can continue to accomplish great things.   

When required, I will endeavor to make myself accessible to members. The better I get to know you and the more I understand the challenges and opportunities that your businesses face in China, the more we can accomplish together. In this spirit, I would like to open the floor to questions from the Chamber’s membership. I will personally answer the first twenty that I receive, and they will be published through the Chamber’s official WeChat account (click 'follow us on Wechat' on the top right of this page). So, please, do not hesitate to send your questions to June Yu, the Chamber’s Press Officer. I look forward to hearing from you all.


Yours faithfully 

Mats Harborn


European Union Chamber of Commerce in China