China, Europe committed to free trade

Our Correspondent

Beijing

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and his wife ended their trip to Europe with a private dinner with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her husband at Hugos Restaurant with a panoramic view from the top floor of InterContinental Hotel in Berlin.
At the dinner that lasted for hours, they chatted about bilateral ties, cooperation, as well as history and art. Filled with an amicable and result-oriented air, the dinner was the epitome of the Chinese premier’s six-day stay in Europe, the first since China’s new cabinet was formed in March. The trip, including official visits to Bulgaria and Germany and attending a meeting of leaders from China and the Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries, cemented consensuses on closer pragmatic cooperation and trade liberalization and outlined a blueprint for further innovation partnership.
Besides, China and Europe, the world’s two major economic forces, delivered a clear and encouraging message that they will stay committed to supporting open and free trade to promote strong, sustainable and balanced global growth.
“As long as we insist on pursuing open cooperation, mutual benefits and win-win result, while staying down-to-earth with firm confidence, the 16+1 cooperation will surely be promoted steadily and will add greater contributions to China-European Union (EU) ties and the world’s openness and prosperity,” Li said on Saturday at the meeting between China and 16 CEE countries.
With six years of development, the fruitful achievements of 16+1 mechanism, a cross-regional cooperation platform, have exceeded expectation, as bilateral trade volume grew to almost 70 billion U.S. dollars from 40 billion.China’s accumulated investment in CEE countries has reached nearly 10 billion dollars while the CEE countries have invested more than 1.4 billion dollars in China. During Li’s stay in Bulgaria, China and CEE countries jointly issued a guideline for their cooperation, and the leaders witnessed the signing of more than 20 cooperation documents.
Addressing the eighth China-CEEC business forum, Li said 16+1 cooperation is an important part of and a useful complement to China-EU cooperation, and it not only facilitates the development of the two sides, but also helps narrow the gaps within the EU and advance European integration. In Germany, the two countries agreed to promote bilateral cooperation in economy, trade and investment, agriculture and people-to-people exchanges.

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