Electrolux, the world's largest manufacturer of domestic electric appliances, is setting up a global purchasing centre in Shanghai. A company spokeswoman said yesterday the centre would compliment its other activities in China, a market it entered in 1987. Since then, it has set up more than five joint ventures and established a global production base in Changsha for refrigerators, washing machines and other kitchen appliances, with the aim of making Electrolux the No1 white-goods brand in China. It expects to buy more than US$1 billion a year of products in China over the next five years. It had also set up a product design centre in Shanghai and an electronic research centre in Shenzhen. It established a China sales company in 1997, with more than 400 outlets nationwide. Shanghai wants to overtake Hong Kong as a principal centre where overseas buyers can see and buy goods and materials from all over China, without the trouble and expense of visiting individual factories and suppliers. An investment consultant said: 'Its advantage is that Shanghai is close to the suppliers and staff here are cheaper than in Hong Kong or advanced countries. On the financial side, you are bringing money in and not out, which means currency controls do not have such significance.' The city is hosting the Shanghai Multinational Purchasing Fair from July 29-31 at the World Trade Centre, one of its biggest international events since the end of Sars.