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China inks trade deals with Swiss companies

Updated:2009-02-27 09:46:18

A Chinese business delegation inked trade deals worth more than 300 million U.S. dollars with Swiss companies on Thursday, ending the second leg of their four-state procurement tour in Europe.

The agreements covered products ranging from software to electric equipments and metals, which meet China's domestic needs, according to Chinese trade officials.

Among those agreements, Switzerland's ABB, a global leader in power and automation technologies, signed a letter of intent for the supply of generator circuit breakers to China Nuclear Power Engineering Company.

Switzerland's Glencore, one of the world's largest suppliers of a wide range of commodities and raw materials to industrial consumers, also signed a deal with Chinalco, the world's second largest alumina producer and the third largest primary aluminum producer.

Holcim, one of the world's leading suppliers of cement and aggregates based in Switzerland, deepened its partnership with China's Huaxin Cement Company (HCC). They signed a frame agreement for technical service, technology and new equipment supplies covering the next two years.

Holcim is already the single largest shareholder in HCC, holding a stake of 39.9 percent of the Chinese firm.

"HCC with Holcim's support will continue to strengthen and extend its leading role as a modern cement producer in China," the two companies said in a statement.

Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming, who led the delegation, said that besides this team, there will be more Chinese business delegations coming to Switzerland for trade and investment opportunities.

Swiss Economy Minister Doris Leuthard revealed that a Swiss business group will also go to China within the year.

Both ministers witnessed the deal-signing ceremony and opened an economic and trade forum with the aim of intensifying relations between Swiss and Chinese companies.

Addressing the forum, Chen said that cooperation is the effective way to tackle the international financial crisis which posed great challenge to world economy.

"Past experience shows that in time of crisis it is all the more important to adhere to a policy of openness and cooperation," he said. "Protectionism will not revive the economy. Rather, it will exacerbate the recession."

"This trade and investment promotion delegation to Europe is a clear indication of China's opposition to protectionism and its readiness to work together with Europe in tiding over the crisis," he added.

Highlighting China and Switzerland are important economic and trade partners to each other, Chen said the two economies are highly complementary.

China is highly competitive in labor-intensive products, such as garments, jewelry, footwear and containers, offering budget choice to Swiss consumers, while Switzerland boasts a distinct competitive edge in watches, medicines, measuring instruments and precision machinery.

In 2008, bilateral trade between China and Switzerland reached 11.25 billion U.S. dollars, increasing 19.2 percent despite the economic downturn. China is now Switzerland's second largest trading partner in Asia.

Leuthard said that the visit by the Chinese delegation sent a strong signal that China and Switzerland remain committed to open markets and against protectionism.

She said the agreements between Swiss and Chinese companies are "good news to our businesses."

"They signed contracts which will safeguard jobs and strengthen the cooperation between Swiss and Chinese companies in different fields in our economy," she said.

Earlier today, Leuthard and Chen signed a memorandum on the intensification of technical cooperation in the field of environmental technology.

"Switzerland and China will cooperate more strongly to ensure that economic growth can be shaped in a more sustainable and environmentally-sound manner," the Swiss government said.

To this end, a joint working group is to be established to examine the potential for cooperation in the areas of technology transfer, energy efficiency, renewable energies and the efficient use of resources. The group will submit proposals on the shape of this cooperation.

Switzerland is the second stop of the Chinese business delegation's European tour. On Wednesday, they signed 37 procurement deals worth about 11 billion euros (14 billion U.S. dollars) with local firms in Germany.

In an interview with Xinhua on Wednesday, Chen expected purchase deals with Switzerland would be modest compared with Germany due to the gap in the two countries' economic scales.

The delegation will arrive in Madrid, Spain later today and then London, the last stop. Chen said the deals to be signed there could be a more than in Switzerland.



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