China-Switzerland FTA a 'strong signal' against protectionism

Updated: 2013-07-08 10:11


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BEIJING - A just-signed free trade agreement (FTA) between China and Switzerland sent the world a strong signal against trade protectionism and will serve as a positive example for China-Europe cooperation, Premier Li Keqiang said Saturday.

The FTA, the first of this kind inked between China and a country in continental Europe, is a milestone in the China-Switzerland relations, Li said during his meeting with Swiss Federal Councillor Johann Schneider-Ammann.

Schneider-Ammann and Chinese Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng signed the trade pact Saturday in Beijing, after over two years of negotiations and legal processes.

Li said advancing freedom and convenience in trade and investment could be "a good remedy" for the difficult recovery of the global economy.

He said China supports a multi-lateral trade system and believes that the trade between countries and regions as well as multi-lateral trade are equally important.

China is willing to work with all related parties to achieve progress in Doha round negotiations and help stabilize and revive world economy, he said.

Schneider-Ammann, also head of the Swiss Federal Department of Economic Affairs, said the signing of the FTA is a historic moment.

He said Switzerland will grasp opportunities arising from the pact to upgrade the cooperation of the two countries.

China is Switzerland's largest trading partner in Asia, while Switzerland is China's eighth-largest trading partner in Europe, according to official Chinese data.

Once the FTA goes into effect, as much as 99.7 percent of Chinese exports to Switzerland will be immediately exempted from tariffs, while 84.2 percent of Swiss exports to China will eventually receive zero tariff.

The deal is also expected to facilitate industrial cooperation between both countries and set new rules in the areas of environment, labor, intellectual property and government procurement.