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Foreign Trade Minister Urges Further Economic Cooperation with EU
China and the European Union (EU) should make joint efforts to safeguard free trade from trade protectionism moves, Chinese Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation Shi Guangsheng said Wednesday.

In a meeting with visiting EU Commissioner Christopher Patten, Shi said the United States' steel products safeguard measures under Section 201 of its 1974 trade law undermine the normal order of international trade and the development of free trade.

China and the EU have coordinated their stances on this issue and on the promotion of a new round of multilateral trade negotiations, he said.

Sino-EU bilateral trade has witnessed fast growth in recent years, said Shi, noting that the EU's investment and donations to China play an important role in promoting Sino-EU economic relations.

On the EU's temporary blocking of animal-origin imports from China, its steel products safeguard measures and the technical limitations on Chinese commodities, Shi demanded that the EU take action to solve these issues properly and as soon as possible.

Patten expressed his satisfaction with the development of EU-China economic and trade relations. The two sides should build closer relations in the field of multilateral trade mechanism, he added.

The EU and China should make further exchanges and cooperation against the negative influence upon international trade imposed byte U.S. Section 201 safeguard measures, he said.

Later, Shi and Patten signed two agreements on Sino-EU cooperation in the fields of energy, environment and European studies. According to the agreements, the EU will donate about 30 million euros (about 26 million U.S. dollars) to China.

Figures from the Chinese Customs show that Sino-EU trade hit a record high of 76.6 billion U.S. dollars in 2001. The bilateral trade volume reached 11.44 billion U.S. dollars in the first two months of 2002, up one percent from the same period of last year.

(People's Daily April 4, 2002)

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