Ericsson has vowed to invest US$5 billion in China following the mainland's accession to the World Trade Organisation. Its China president Jan Malm says the Swedish mobile manufacturing company, also the No 1 mobile infrastructure provider in China, expects sales growth in the world's largest telecommunications market next year. 'More licences means more competition, but also more opportunities,' Mr Malm said. 'We hope that the continued deregulation will make it easier for us to operate in China.' This year Ericsson recorded 20 per cent growth on the mainland, thanks to the robust telecoms market. However, Mr Malm indicated it would be a challenge to grow next year as China's No 2 mobile operator - China Unicom - had already flagged lower investment next year. Ericsson, which generated mainland sales of US$1.1 billion in the first half compared to US$2.3 billion for the whole of last year, has 10 joint ventures across 26 cities in China. Mr Malm said the company was budgeting US$5.1 billion of investment in the next five years - double its aggregate investments during the past 15 years. The mainland was one of the three major manufacturing centres for Ericsson and accounted for 12 per cent of the company's sales last year. Mobile infrastructure accounted for some two-thirds of those sales. Meanwhile, Ericsson bought US$2 billion worth of components in China last year and exported about US$1.5 billion worth of mobile equipment from there. In 1997 it was the mainland's leading maker of handsets, but has since dropped to fourth position. Now Ericsson intends to fight back and reclaim market share. 'If we have the right product, I am sure we could regain market share quite quickly.' Mr Malm said. The market was 'looking for less complicated and low-cost products' - a shift in the market-place pattern that had caught Ericsson on the back foot.