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China, Russia reach consensus on closure of market
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China and Russia have agreed that the sudden closure of a Moscow market used by many Chinese merchants should not hurt their economic ties, Chinese Vice Minister of Commerce Gao Hucheng said Saturday.

"The Chinese side has reached broad consensus with the Russian side on the proper handling of the sudden shutdown of the Cherkizovsky Market," Gao said.

Gao heads a Chinese delegation that went to Moscow for talks on the impact of the June 29 closing of the market used by tens of thousands of Chinese merchants.

About 150 Chinese merchants and a large quantity of their goods were seized in a crackdown on smuggling at the market, Moscow's biggest wholesale market.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin had said the market was a major focus of smuggling and contraband goods and put a figure of 2 billion US dollars on the value of goods at the facility.

No word has been given as to when the market, which mostly offered cheap clothes, will reopen.

Gao said the two countries agreed to handle the closure through friendly negotiations, as China and Russia share a common goal of creating a good environment for the healthy development of bilateral trade relations.

Gao said both sides will develop a work plan to stop illegal activities, including "grey customs clearance."

He said the Moscow city government has started to help merchants transfer their goods out of the market by setting up emergency headquarters to smoothly handle the process.

The city, Gao said, also will provide the Chinese merchants with the necessary assistance and legal aid concerning the placement of their goods and the establishment of a standardized market.

Moscow's commercial and marketing bureau was scheduled to meet Sunday with representatives from the Chinese Chamber of Commerce in Russia and Chinese merchants to discuss the situation.

China and Russia cherish their strategic partnership and agreed that the market closure would not affect bilateral cooperation, Gao said.

Gao, who arrived in Moscow on Wednesday, was accompanied by a delegation of officials from the ministries of commerce and foreign affairs, the General Administration of Customs, and trade officials from Zhejiang and Fujian provinces.

The delegation has met with representatives of the Chinese merchants and Russian officials from relevant ministries and departments.

(Xinhua News Agency July 26, 2009)

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