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China-EU shipping cooperation strenghtened
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China and the European Union (EU) will give each other unrestricted maritime market access as a result of the EU-China Maritime Transport Agreement, which is set to come into force on Saturday.

Under the pact, concluded in Brussels on Dec. 6, 2002, international cargo transport and logistics operators may extend branches that provide door-to-door multi-modal services, according to a joint statement issued on Thursday.

"The agreement has strengthened our maritime relations and cooperation. These close ties have been beneficial for the development of trade and economic activities, not only between China and the EU but also with the world at large," said European Commission Vice-President Jacques Barrot in a letter to the Chinese Minister for Communications Li Shenglin.

Barrot said that the accord would mean increased investment in all segments of maritime transport, and it would also boost cooperation in matters as important as maritime safety and environmentally sustainable shipping. Both sides would also increase investment in ports and logistics infrastructure to avoid costly congestion.

The agreement aims to improve the conditions under which maritime cargo transport operations are carried out, based on the principles of freedom to provide maritime transport services, free access to cargoes and cross-trade and non-discriminatory treatment in the use of ports and auxiliary services.

About 90 percent of world trade is seaborne, and both the EU and China are major participants in maritime affairs. EU shipping companies control more than 40 percent of the world fleet, and China is the EU's second largest trading partner.

(Xinhua News Agency February 29, 2008)

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