On May 21st, Austrian local time, ICBC Austria Bank GmbH (ICBC Austria) was officially commenced for business in Vienna. Mr. Li Zhanshu, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, who was on an official goodwill visit in Austria, and Chancellor of Austria Mr. Sebastian Kurz attended the opening ceremony. Chinese Ambassador to Austria Mr. Li Xiaosi, Chairman of Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) Mr. Chen Siqing, Federal Minister for Digital and Economic Affairs Ms. Margarete Schramböck, Governor of Austrian Central Bank Mr. Ewald Nowotny, and Executive Director of the Financial Market Authority Mag. Klaus Kumpfmüller also participated in the opening ceremony.
In his speech, Mr. Kurz said in the past few years, cooperation is deepening continuously between Austria and China. A year ago, the Austrian President led a delegation to visit China. Not long ago, Mr. Kurz himself participated in the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, further proving the deepening of the friendly relations between the two countries. Austria is located in central Europe and is an export-oriented economy. Austrian market is an attractive choice for banks and bank in Austria is better positioned to reach Central and Eastern Europe and the Balkan market. The fact that Industrial and Commercial Bank of China chooses to establish a subsidiary in Austria proves Austria's geographical advantage. Mr. Kurz said he hopes to work with all parties to further promote the friendly cooperation between Austria and China.
Mr. Chen Siqing said China and Austria enjoy a long history of exchanges and are economically complementary. Fruitful results have been made in a wide range of areas and more achievements will be made. China is Austria's biggest trading partner in Asia and the second largest market behind the EU. Both countries are also important sources of investment for each other. The increasingly close economic and trade ties have laid a solid foundation for deepening financial cooperation between China and Austria. With the opening of ICBC Austria, ICBC will play its role as a financial bridge, and help Chinese enterprises better understand Austria and invest in key areas such as advanced manufacturing, energy conservation and environmental protection, technological innovation, winter sports industry and other new areas for growth. Furthermore, ICBC will provide professional and efficient cross-border financial services for Austrian companies to enter the Chinese market and try to become the primary bank to serve Sino-Austrian economic and trade exchanges. At the same time, with this new platform ICBC Austria, ICBC will promote pragmatic cooperation between the two countries under the Belt and Road Initiative and the cooperation mechanism between China and the Central and Eastern European Countries. The Bank will strive to become a pioneering bank to help the two countries benefit from global opportunities. ICBC Austria will comply with regulatory requirements and implement global best practices, adhere to the philosophy of compliant and prudent operation, and actively fulfill its social responsibilities. ICBC Austria aims to be an excellent bank that wins customer satisfaction, regulatory recognition and good reputation in the Austrian market.
Statistics show that the bilateral trade volume between China and Austria reached a record USD9.75 billion in 2018, a year-on-year increase of 16.2%. Among them, China's exports to Austria were USD2.83 billion, an increase of 11.9%; China's import from Austria were USD6.92 billion, increased by 18%. In terms of bilateral investment, direct investment to Austria by Chinese enterprises was USD190 million in 2018, bringing the total amount of investment from China to Austria to over USD1 billion. Austrian enterprises invested USD150 million in China directly in 2018, an increase of 53%, and the accumulated investment by Austria in China reached USD2.14 billion.
At present, ICBC has established 426 overseas institutions in 47 countries and territories around the world, and the Bank's operation network indirectly covers 20 African countries by holding the shares of Standard Bank Group. In the European market, ICBC operates in 15 countries. In recent years, to support the Belt and Road Initiative, ICBC has been actively promoting economic and trade investment cooperation in countries and regions along the Belt and Road. Currently, ICBC has provided over USD100 billion loans to Belt and Road projects, covering electricity, manufacturing, infrastructure, resource development, economic zone construction, green industry and so on. ICBC is also the initiator of the Belt and Road Inter-bank Regular Cooperation Mechanism to promote mutually beneficial cooperation among international financial institutions under the Belt and Road Initiative. The Mechanism now has 88 members from 45 countries and territories, including major Austrian banks.
Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Limited, headquartered in Beijing, was established on 1 January 1984. On 27 October 2006, the Bank was successfully listed on both Shanghai Stock Exchange and The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited. As a leading bank in the world, ICBC possesses an excellent customer base, a diversified business structure, strong innovation capabilities and market competitiveness. The Bank has formed a globalized and multi-market business structure with commercial banking as the core, providing a comprehensive range of financial products and services to 7,033 thousand corporate customers and 607 million personal customers. The Bank was ranked the 1st place among the Top 1000 World Banks by The Banker, ranked the 1st place in the Global 2000 listed by Forbes and topped the sub-list of commercial banks of the Global 500 in Fortune for the sixth consecutive year, and took the 1st place among the Top 500 Banking Brands of Brand Finance for the third consecutive year.