China and Switzerland decided on Tuesday to begin a joint feasibility study on creating a bilateral free trade zone in the second half of this year in preparation for formally launching negotiations on the issue.
During talks in the Swiss capital, visiting Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and President of the Swiss Confederation Hans-Rudolf Merz exchanged views on the current international financial and economic situation and briefed each other on the policies and measures China and Switzerland have taken regarding the international financial crisis.
The two leaders agreed that it is an urgent task for the two countries to work more closely together to tide over the difficulties against the backdrop of the financial crisis.
The feasibility study on a free trade zone is one of the measures the two nations agreed to take in order to jointly tackle the challenges brought about by the international financial crisis.
Other measures include deepening financial cooperation, expanding trade and investment, opposing trade protectionism, and promoting reform of the international financial system.
China and Switzerland will also boost joint work in technology, energy, environmental protection, as well as in the medical and cultural sectors.
The Chinese premier arrived here earlier in the day for an official visit to Switzerland and will also attend the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos.
Wen said during the talks with Merz that the political mutual trust between China and Switzerland has been deepened and bilateral cooperation has been fruitful since the two nations set up diplomatic ties 59 years ago.
He said China values the traditional friendship with Switzerland and is ready to promote high-level exchanges and expand their cooperation that is based on mutual respect and mutual benefit.
Merz expressed Switzerland's admiration for China's achievements in its reform and opening up, saying he believed China has an even brighter prospect for further growth.
Switzerland hopes to strengthen the political dialogue and practical cooperation with China, he said.
After the talks, China and Switzerland signed an agreement on promoting and protecting investment.