Spain is set to strengthen its economic and trade ties with China, Spanish Minister of Industry, Tourism and Commerce Miguel Sebastian said here Wednesday.
Spain attaches great importance to promoting economic and trade ties with China, and the government has drafted a "China plan" to expand trade and investment between the two countries, the minister said.
Speaking after Spanish and Chinese companies inked more than 20 procurement deals worth 320 million U.S. dollars in Madrid, Sebastian said he was pleased that the Spanish-Chinese trade has been growing rapidly in the past few years.
"Five years ago our exports to China were less than our exports to the tiny country of Andorra. In the past five years our exports to China have increased five times," he said.
According to China's official figures, China is Spain's biggest trading partner outside the European Union, while Spain is China's sixth largest trading partner in the 27-nation bloc. Bilateral trade almost quadrupled in the past five years to 26.2 billion dollars last year.
The two governments also agreed to take measures to address Spain's big trade deficit with China, the minister said.
The new orders signed with the visiting Chinese trade delegation, which was led by Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming and included more than 150 Chinese entrepreneurs, was a step forward in the right direction, Sebastian said.
China, the third largest economy in the world, enjoys high priority in the Spanish government's trade and investment promotion strategy, he said.
To help businesses from both sides establish contacts, the Spanish government has opened an office in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong and is encouraging Spanish firms to take part in trade forums and expos in China.
He has high expectations for the Spanish-Chinese forum in the Chinese province of Sichuan in April, and the international expo for small- and medium-sized firms in Guangdong in September this year.
"Many Spanish companies are looking forward to the events and are busy preparing for them," he said.
In order to meet the target of increasing bilateral trade to 40 billion dollars in 2011, the Spanish government has assigned specific personnel and allocated multi-million-euro funds to the task, the minister said.