Chinese premier's Swiss tour fruitful, influential

Updated: 2013-05-26 03:18


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BERN, Switzerland - Chinese Premier Li Keqiang arrived in Germany Saturday after wrapping up a fruitful visit to Switzerland, which has far-reaching influences.

During his stay in the Alpine country which he visited in 2010 as vice premier, Li has met political, business leaders and inked a series of important agreements.


The conclusion of a free trade agreement (FTA) talks between China and Switzerland, secured by a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), is one of the highlights of Li's Swiss trip and has drawn lots of attention from the media and public.

Chinese Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng said the completion of FTA is a historic event in the bilateral economic and trade cooperation.

Gao, who signed an MOU with Swiss Economics Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann, said it marked a significant achievement for China's acceleration of implementing its FTA strategy.

The FTA, Gao said, would be one of the most comprehensive and high-level accords China has signed with a foreign country in recent years.

Swiss media described the trade accord as one of the most important international deals in 40 years for Switzerland.

Li's trip also helped promote bilateral financial cooperation. In his first stop in Zurich, the European financial hub, Li delivered a speech in a luncheon with Swiss financial leaders.

In Bern, Li and Swiss President Ueli Maurer witnessed the signing of an agreement to establish a financial dialogue mechanism between the two sides.

Maurer said Switzerland was honored to become the first continental European country to establish a free trade zone and financial dialogue mechanism with China.

The two countries also signed agreements on cooperation in human resources, education and other sectors.

Li stressed on Saturday the significance of innovation and called for more technological cooperation between Chinese and Swiss enterprises during a visit to the Einstein House museum in Bern, the residence of Albert Einstein from 1903 to 1905.

He said the Chinese government has put forward a series of measures to boost technological innovation and welcomes investment by Swiss and European companies.

Li visited Guldenberg family farm in the suburb of Zurich Friday morning. Alphorns, flag-throwing and yodeling -- he was warmly welcomed by local residents in a typical traditional way of Switzerland.

He said the two countries could further strengthen exchanges and cooperation, unleash their potential to realize the sustainable development of agriculture, and bring benefits to the two peoples.


Switzerland's location at the heart of Europe carries geographical importance. For China, the impact of its cooperation with the country  extended far beyond the two nations.

The FTA, as pointed by Li, will not only benefit the two countries, but also promote China-EU trade and global trade liberalization.

Li said in a signed article published Thursday in Neue Zuricher Zeitung, a German-language Swiss daily, that a high-quality FTA agreement between China and Switzerland will set a good example.

"It will not only upgrade our business and investment cooperation but also send a powerful message to the rest of the world that we reject trade and investment protectionism and, instead, we embrace trade liberalization and facilitation," the article said.

That's perhaps why Li chose Switzerland as the place to reiterate China's firm opposition to recent EU trade measures against Chinese-made photovoltaic products and mobile telecom equipment.

The two cases will not only cause severe damages to China's related industries, enterprises and jobs, but also harm the interests of European users and consumers, Li noted.

He said that China always favors solving trade disputes via dialogue and consultation.

China hopes the EU will properly handle the two cases, give thought to the overall China-EU economic and trade relations and uphold the principle of free trade, he added.

Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, said Li's visit to Switzerland is "a positive signal at the right time."