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Chinese delegation looks to expand Swiss trade
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21:03, February 26, 2009

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A Chinese business delegation looked to expand trade with Switzerland on Thursday during the second leg of its European procurement tour.

Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming said during opening ceremonies at a meeting of hundreds and Chinese and Swiss businessmen that cooperation was an effective way to deal with the international financial crisis.

"Trade protectionism will do no good to the world economic recovery. It will only make the recession even worse," Chen said.

Chen said the fact that China sent a large delegation to buy European products shows that his government is taking concrete action to fight protectionism.

"China is ready to cooperate with Europe to deal with the crisis," he said.

The Chinese delegation, led by Chen, is composed of state-owned and private companies and joint ventures from various industries. The delegation started its four-nation procurement tour of Europe on Tuesday.

Switzerland was the second stop after Germany, where the Chinese delegation signed 37 procurement deals worth about 11 billion euros (14 billion U.S. dollars) with local firms.

Chen told Xinhua on Wednesday that he expected purchase deals with Switzerland would be modest compared to Germany due to the gap in the two countries' economic scales.

China and Switzerland are important economic and trade partners, Chen said, adding that the two economies are highly complementary.

China is highly competitive in labor-intensive products, such as garments, jewelry, footwear and containers, which offer budget choices to Swiss consumers.

Switzerland, meanwhile, boasts a competitive edge in watches, medicines, measuring instruments and precision machinery.

In 2008, bilateral trade between China and Switzerland topped 10 billion U.S. dollars for the first time, reaching 11.25 billion U.S. dollars. That was a 19.2-percent increase despite the economic downturn.

China now is Switzerland's second largest trading partner in Asia.

Swiss Economy Minister Doris Leuthard said the fact that the delegation came soon after Prime Minister Wen Jiabao's visit showed bilateral ties are good.

"Together we are stronger. We are in the best position to signal our trust in the economic future for our companies," Leuthard said.

The minister said the visit sent a strong signal that China and Switzerland remain committed to open markets and are against protectionism.


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