Swedbank’s Growth Days start today in Gothenburg
The Growth Days will gather people who would like to create better conditions for local and regional growth, and entrepreneurship. This is the declaration from Swedbank and the Savings banks on what to expect during March 17th-18th in Gothenburg. I believe we are in for a treat!
The idea is to start with China, which is a natural thing considering we are in Gothenburg where ships sailed from a long time ago to do business far away. We will discuss the challenges and opportunities for Sweden and its regions from China’s greater position in the world economy. Thereafter, the discussions continue dealing with structural changes in Sweden, youth unemployment, entrepreneurship and how to continue to be competitive in a more competitive world.
When I prepared my introduction on China, I started to reflect on my own relation to this vast country with such long traditions and complex developments. I once heard that how you value China has a lot to do with when you first met her. If it was a long time ago, you will be impressed how far developments have come. If it was just recently, you will be more impatient focusing on what is still needed to be achieved.
In 1984, being 21 years old, I travelled with my friend Ellika with the Trans-Siberian railroad to Beijing. We were going to stay half a year in Asia, including a month in China, visiting Beijing, Xian, Nanjing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Kunming, Guilin and Guangzhou (Canton). The Chinese embassy had granted us permission to travel by ourselves, with an introduction letter from Herman Lindqvist, the journalist and author with great knowledge about Asia.
I remember the early impression of China being sunny, green and with lots of Chinese music on the train, the complete opposite from the somewhat grey Soviet Union. In Beijing, it took four hours finding the hotel after getting off the train, as no one spoke English and it was impossible to read the road signs. I realized early that this country was the most different from any other country in the world, and also the most exciting experience.
China has come a long way since then, as the economy is almost 20 times bigger, and poverty has been reduced. The middle class is growing with new needs apart from what is related to daily life, such as influence and human rights. The main message is that China continues to develop and also very fast. I am stuck in the middle of being impressed and impatient. We certainly need to understand her better!
Group Chief Economist