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European Talks Set to Boost Relations
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China expects to hold over 20 joint economic and trade commission conferences with European countries this year, according to a senior commerce official.

"The conferences will include ministerial-level talks with EU, Russia, Germany, Britain and France," said Sun Yongfu, director of the commerce ministry's department of European affairs.   

The conferences will aim to boost trade and economic relations between the two sides. The government will also launch negotiations on economic issues in the Sino-EU partnership agreement. Sun said his department would participate in the negotiations.

Trade between China and the Europe grew 25.9 percent year-on-year to US$299 billion in the first 11 months last year and is expected to reach US$320 billion for the full year.

"We analyzed trade between China and the European countries and found the trading structure was being used to optimum effect," Sun said.

He said that besides light industryproducts exported from China to the Europe, trade in machinery, electronics and high-tech products grew fast last year. Machinery and electronics products accounted for over 60 percent of the total exports and imports, while high-tech products accounted for 29.5 percent.

But there were also major conflicts in trade relations between China and EU members in 2006.

The EU anti-dumping tariff, in which the European Commission placed a 16.5 percent duty on Chinese-made shoes, was the largest conflict involving Chinese products. The case was estimated to have affected US$670 million worth of exports and about 4 million jobs in China.

Sun said the ministry would strengthen negotiations with European countries this year and expected to solve trade disputes through the World Trade Organization's dispute settlement mechanism.

"On the other hand, we will standardize trade among Chinese exporters in a bid to reduce conflicts," he said.

In the first 11 months last year, European enterprises established 2,826 projects in China, slightly down from a year earlier.

"The average investment of each project was US$1.8 million, much higher than the US$1.69 million invested in 2005," Sun said.

The Europe remains the largest source of China's technology imports. In the first 11 months last year, China signed 2,606 technology import contracts with European exporters, valued at US$8.58 billion. The Europe imports accounted for over 42 percent of the country's total technology imports.

(China Daily January 17, 2007)

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