The German government hopes to attract more Chinese logistics companies to invest in the country at a time when trade between the two sides is increasing. In a bid to facilitate growing trade between the two countries, the German government has joined hands with its private sector to form Logistics Alliance Germany, which has been established to foster more co-operation and pursue joint ventures between the two sides. "There are 10 to 15 negotiations between German and Chinese companies in the logistics sector under way right now," Stefan Schroder, executive director of Logistics Alliance Germany, said in Hong Kong last week after a visit to Shanghai and Shenzhen. The group aims to facilitate the creation of 40 to 50 partnerships worldwide next year, with China being the top priority. "Germany is a logistics hub for Europe, and if we want to build a bridge to the Far East, we need to balance trade between China and Germany," said Schroder. "To balance that trade, we need to find co-operation elsewhere." At a time when China was upgrading its manufacturing sector to build its own branding for overseas expansion, the European bloc and its 500-million-strong population presented an attractive market for Chinese manufacturers, said Schroder, citing Huawei Technologies, BYD and Lenovo. Huawei, a telecommunications giant on the mainland, had set up research and development centres in Germany to upgrade its products, he said, while BYD had made electronic buses for European markets and computer-maker Lenovo acquired German electronics wholesaler Medion in 2011. By teaming up, Chinese and German logistics companies could achieve greater efficiencies, he added. "We would like to have Sinotrans as our partner as it has close relationships with mainland customs and knows their practices well. On the other hand, our logistics companies will also know the regulations and requirements on environmental protection on the mainland," Schroder said. Imports from China were becoming increasingly important for the German market, said Edoardo Podesta, managing director for the Far East at Dachser, a German logistics company. Currently, the air freight of imports and exports between the two markets is balanced, while 80 per cent of seaborne freight comes from exports and 20 per cent from imports. Dachser said that as the yuan continued to strengthen, import trade in China would have much room to grow. Logistics in Germany is the third-largest sector in the country behind vehicle and machinery. Over the past seven years, Chinese companies funded 280 "greenfield" or startup projects in Germany, according to official German data. Accumulative Chinese investments in Germany amounted to €725 million (HK$7.7 billion) since 2000.