The value of China to F1 sponsors

CHINA formally joined the World Trade Organisation on Tuesday and that will have major implications for global trade in the years ahead as the country opens up for business with the West. In order to boost its own foreign trade China has had to make considerable concessions and this will open up the Chinese markets to retailers, banks, telecommunications companies and the big players in the world's oil business. There is expected to be a rush of activity as the trade barriers come down and this will increase pressure on the Formula 1 authorities to get a race organized in China so that companies involved can break into the huge Chinese consumer market.

The automobile business will also be affected with China reducing tariffs on imported vehicles dramatically by July 2005 and abolish all quotas on the number of cars which are able to be imported. This will hurt the Chinese domestic car companies but will offer big opportunities for motor manufacturers which have the right products for the Chinese market.

China wants to show the world that it is open for business and the western companies want to get into the Chinese market. All in all it adds up to a great opportunity for Formula 1. However with more and more deals being agreed between the F1 authorities and relatively minor European countries it is hard to see where any new races are going to fit into the F1 calendar in the years ahead.

Austria has now got a deal and both Germany and Italy seem to be looking at retaining two races apiece and many of the other events have long-term agreements already in place and it seems that the F1 ethos at the moment is not to allow room to invest in the future but rather to grab the money where it is available. A bird in the hand, so they say, is worth more than two in the bush.

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