A Chinese business delegation signed more than 20 procurement deals with Spanish firms in Madrid on Wednesday, which are worth 320 million U.S. dollars.
The contracts and agreements covered a wide range of industrial and agricultural commodities, including aircraft simulators, auto parts, steel, wool, marble, seafood, olive oil, wine and ham.
Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming, who led the 200-strong delegation of Chinese businessmen and government officials, said the mission was an important step to promote a balanced development of Sino-Spanish trade and to strengthen the comprehensive strategic partnership of the two countries.
He said the Chinese government is keen to keep the country's doors open to foreign goods and services while the world economy is experiencing a downturn. "Only through opening markets can world trade start to pick up again. Protectionism will not help the world economy to recover," he said.
Chen and Spanish Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism Miguel Sebastian witnessed the signing of the deals in the Villa Magna Hotel in downtown Madrid.
Chen said that Sino-Spanish trade has been growing quickly and bilateral trade topped 26.2 billion dollars in 2008, making China Spain's biggest trading partner outside the European Union. The visit was aimed at further enhancing bilateral economic and trade ties, he said.
Chen warned against trade protectionism, saying such tendency, at a time when the financial turmoil poses serious challenges to the world economy, will both exacerbate and prolong the global economic crisis.
He said China and Spain should continue to open markets to each other and strengthen economic and trade cooperation, by which the two sides can jointly take on the formidable challenges.
China is more than willing to help Spanish enterprises to promote their agricultural produce, shoes, textiles and other products in China, Chen said, adding that the Spanish side should also facilitate high-tech exports to China and to increase the depth of bilateral cooperation.
Through joint efforts, the two countries will hopefully increase bilateral trade to 40 billion dollars in 2011, the target which was agreed between the two countries.
Chen said the Chinese government is taking a series of measures to stimulate its economy, including expanding investments and reducing taxes on a large scale. "We welcome Spanish entrepreneurs to cash in on the opportunities," he said.
He said Spanish companies are particularly welcome to investment in the fields of finance, telecommunications, tourism, environmental protection, infrastructure, auto industry, logistics, renewable energy and sustainable development.
Sebastian agreed with Chen on his opposition to protectionism. He said Chen's words demonstrated China's sense of responsibility and its friendliness. "It is important at this time of crisis (for countries) to deepen cooperation and combat protectionism," he said.
The minister described the visit of the Chinese mission as "short but constructive." "We are very thankful that they are here," he said.
Spain is keen to strengthen trade and investment ties with China, which is the third largest economy in the world and Spain's biggest trading partner outside the European Union (EU), Sebastian said. The government has taken a number of measures to foster cooperation with China, and the work is even more relevant and urgent now as Spain is coping with its worst recession in decades.
Many Spanish enterprises, especially the small and medium-sized ones, will travel to China in April and September this year to participate in a trade forum in Sichuan and an expo in Guangdong, the minister said, adding that he expect fruitful trips for Spanish businesses.
Before signing the deals in the Villa Magna Hotel in downtown Madrid, representatives from more than 80 Chinese companies joined their colleagues from over 100 Spanish firms in a Sino-Spanish economic and trade cooperation forum.
Many entrepreneurs said that there is great potential for further development of bilateral trade and investment, and they are optimistic of future cooperation in trade, investment and technology development.
The Chinese delegation arrived in Madrid Wednesday on its third leg of a four-nation trip. The Chinese entrepreneurs have visited Germany and Switzerland, where they signed more than 14 billion dollars worth of procurement deals covering products from vehicles, machinery to software and metals.
On Thursday the delegation leaves for London, the final stop of their journey.