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China, Spain Pledge to Deepen Economic, Trade Co-op

Top trade and commerce officials from China and Spain pledged on Tuesday to deepen economic and trade cooperation to contribute to the global fight against the ongoing global financial crisis.

As the world economy is seriously threatened by the financial crisis, it is extremely important for China and Spain to promote their cooperation in economy and trade, said Chinese Vice Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng at a plenary session of the Global China Business Meeting, which opened on Monday.

In a speech at the session under the theme "Global partnership: China, Spain and the World," Gao said there are great potentials for the economic and trade cooperation between the two countries as the Spanish financial system keeps stable, the country enjoys an economic growth higher than the average of the European Union (EU), and leads the world in many areas, including wind electricity generation, sea water desalination, and public transport infrastructure, whose expertise is much helpful to China.

Turning to the international financial crisis, Gao said that the Chinese government is keeping a close watch on the adverse impacts the crisis inflicts on the country's domestic economy.

In an effort to expand domestic demand and speed up construction of public facilities, the Chinese government announced on November 9 that it would launch a stimulus package estimated at 4 trillion yuan (about US$570 billion) to be spent over the next two years to finance programs in 10 major areas, such as low-income housing, rural infrastructure, water, electricity, transport, the environment and technological innovation.

The stimulus plan will surely contribute to the world economy, he said.

Meanwhile, he said the enhanced Sino-Spanish economic and trade cooperation could also serve as an important means in the global fight against the financial crisis.

In this regard, he made three proposals:

First, both sides should be devoted to promoting bilateral trade balance and sustainable development so as to gain win-win results;

Secondly, both sides should endeavor to push forward two-way investment. With the ongoing development plan in the vast western region, and the revitalization plan for the northeast of China, the environment for investment in inland China is much better now. China welcomes more Spanish companies to invest in the country, including participation in the reconstruction of the earthquake-hit regions in Sichuan Province. Meanwhile, Spain will also be a priority destination for Chinese investment in the near future.

Thirdly, both countries should explore new growth spheres for cooperation between medium and small-sized enterprises of the two nations.

In his speech, Spanish Prince of Asturias Felipe said that Spain considers China as a "stable and key partner" as frequent high-level visits between the two sides have deepened mutual trust and understanding.

He also predicted the great potentials for future bilateral economic and trade cooperation, which has been developing quickly over the recent years.

In her speech, Silvia Iranzo, Spainsh Vice Minister of Commerce said China is one of Spain's important partners, has a huge market, and enjoys steady economic development. Spain leads the world in some fields, and its investment in China is huge, but Spain also hopes to embrace more Chinese investment, she added.

She called on enterprises from both sides to further cooperation for mutual benefits, especially under the current circumstances amidst the financial crisis.

Sino-Spanish economic and trade relations have developed smoothly over the past few years. Spain is China's sixth largest partner within the EU, while China is the largest non-EU trade partner of Spain. In 2007, bilateral trade reached US$20.97 billion, with an increase of 44.7 percent year-on-year. Meanwhile, Spain currently is the EU's sixth largest investor in China, with the number of projects in China funded by Spanish investment having increased to 1522.

The three-day Global China Business Meeting, under the theme "Globalizing Chinese firms," has drawn some 400 business and political leaders from China and the rest of the world. It is the foremost annual gathering of Chinese business leaders and their global counterparts.

Discussion topics for the meeting include the economic outlook for China and the world, China's Olympic momentum, and China's role in global trade, as well as a specific focus on themes like private equity, merger and acquisitions, corporate governance, branding, natural resources, and the efforts to ensure sustainable growth.

The meeting, in its 4th edition and formerly known as the China Europe Business Meeting, is being held in Spain for the first time. It is co-hosted by Geneva-based strategic advisory firm Horasis, the China Federation of Industrial Economics, and Casa Asia, an institution under the Spanish government.

(Xinhua News Agency November 19, 2008)

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