From US$18.7 billion in 2004, China’s market for water and wastewater treatment is expected to grow to US$22.7 billion in 2005, and will reach US$33.2 billion in 2010. In 2004, the residential water market reached US$1.46 billion, and by 2010 it will reach US$3.3 billion, and by 2015, US$5.48 billion. (hkc22.com) With 1.3 billion people, China faces severe water shortages and pollution problems. During the past decade, economic growth has led to a 77% untreated effluent rate, a 70% water shortage, and 400 cities facing water shortages as a result. Water shortages are caused primarily by contamination and a lack of supply capacity. As part of its commitment to solving water problems by 2015, the government has established and improved a number of laws and regulations, including opening up the water industry to foreign and civil investors. By 2005, the Ministry of Construction must build sewage treatment facilities in all cities, and by 2010, the rate of sewage treatment must reach 45% and up to 90%. Investing over $200 billion in water supplies and wastewater treatment is essential over the next ten years. The wastewater treatment scheme at Three Lakes and Rivers alone has a budget of $150 billion.
In spite of the relatively low prices for drinking water, some investors are discouraged from entering the water industry due to the large market volume and increasing growth rate of the market for water treatment and water treatment equipment. The water, wastewater and drinking water industries currently employ over 350 medium and large-sized businesses. It is estimated that more than 50 international water giants have entered China’s water industry and capital market since the late 1990s. Over 70 percent of water and wastewater treatment equipment is imported. Among the best-known and most successful foreign companies on the growing Chinese water market, two French companies, Suez and Violia Water, and a UK company, Thames Water, are the most successful foreign companies. In China, bottled water is a highly competitive and lucrative market, and companies such as Nestli are establishing a leading position. With the opening up of the water market for private and foreign capital, 5000 more water companies are expected in several years. Innovative and new technologies will be of particular interest and profitable. The membership of China in the WTO opens up new opportunities for international water cooperation and attracts more foreign companies to compete on this rapidly growing market. A comprehensive study of the water market, technology, and projects in 34 provinces in China from 2003-2015, China Water, has just been released.
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