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EU, China agree to promote trade, investment to counter crisis
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08:54, May 09, 2009

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The European Union (EU) and China agreed on Friday to promote trade and investment as a way to get out of the current financial and economic crisis.

"The two sides agreed that in the face of the current severe international financial crisis, China and the EU should strengthen cooperation," Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan told journalists after two days of high-level talks with senior EU officials led by Trade Commissioner Catherine Ashton.

"The two sides also reiterated their commitment to jointly advancing trade liberalization and investment facilitation and maintaining an open environment for trade and investment," he added.

Standing side by side with Ashton, Wang called for joint efforts with the EU to push for a swift conclusion of the long-stalled Doha Round of global trade talks.

"The two sides agreed to oppose protectionism in trade and investment, consolidate the already (achieved) progress in the Doha round of negotiations and work for the early success of the round of negotiations," he said.

Wang's call was echoed by Ashton.

"Trade and investment will lead us out of the current crisis," she said. "The EU and China therefore stand together today in calling for the swift conclusion of the Doha round, which will help us trade our way out of recession."

The high-level economic and trade dialogue, which is held annually between the EU and China, kicked off in Brussels on Thursday. The two-day dialogue brought together key policymakers from both sides.

Besides Wang and Ashton, a further eight EU Commissioners and a total of 12 Chinese ministers or vice-ministers participated in the far-reaching talks, which cover a series of topics, such as trade, investment, small and medium-sized companies, customs cooperation, sustainable development, product safety and intellectual property rights.

Wang said China and the EU agreed to strengthen cooperation in investment.

Compared to their massive volume of trade, which grew to 425.58billion U.S. dollars in 2008, an increase of 19.5 percent over the previous year despite the impact of the financial crisis, investment between the two trading powers remains relatively low, with both sides hoping to tap the potential.

Wang said China and the EU would encourage their enterprises to take part in each other's economic stimulus plans within their laws and on an equal and unbiased basis.

In face of the financial crisis, China put into place a stimulus package estimated at four trillion yuan (about 586 billion U.S. dollars), which would be spent over the next two years to prevent the largest developing economy from a sharp slowdown, while EU countries also committed billions of euros to avoid a deeper recession.

The EU and China also agreed to jointly support growth of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). They decided to hold the second China-EU policy dialogue on SMEs in September in Guangzhou, China.

In addition, the two sides pledged to enhance cooperation in energy, environment protection, high-tech trade, protection of intellectual property rights, product quality and food safety, customs cooperation and transport.

China has been urging the EU to remove restrictions on high-tech exports to China, especially in the field of green technology in which European companies have an edge.

Chen Deming, the Chinese minister of commerce who took part in the dialogue, said the EU and China agreed to set up a working team on high-tech trade, which would carry out a detailed study of the issue.

It is the second time that the EU and China hold the high-level economic and trade dialogue, which was agreed at a Sino-EU summit in November 2007. The first meeting was held in Beijing in April 2008.

Source: Xinhua

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