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Chinese trade delegation to Europe expected to sign deals worth $15 bln (02/23/09)

 BEIJING, Feb. 24 (Xinhua) -- A delegation of about 200 Chinese entrepreneurs left on Tuesday afternoon for Germany, the first stop of a European visit during which they could sign a series of deals worth up to 15 billion U.S dollars, as predicted by insider sources.

  The procurement team, led by commerce minister Chen Deming and composed of state-owned, joint venture and private companies from various industries, will also visit Switzerland, Spain and Britain.

  During their stay in Europe until Saturday, the Chinese companies plan to sign deals for automobiles, machinery, aircraft engines, railway equipment and components, olive oil and food.

  Vice commerce minister Gao Hucheng described the trip as an important action following Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to the four European countries early this month to further strengthen Sino-European trade and commercial ties.

  "It reflects China's commitment to an open market and our goodwill to help with world economic recovery by closer economic cooperation with other countries," Gao said.

  Wang Yong, general secretary with the Brand China Industry Union and also a member with Premier Wen's entourage to the Europe, estimated the value of the deals could reach 12 billion to 15 billion U.S. dollars.

  During Premier Wen's European visit early this month, China has signed 38 agreements with the European Union (EU) and the 4 European countries, which worth more than 15 billion yuan (2.2 billion U.S. dollars).

  "The purchase delegation will have much fatter checks in hand," Wang said.

  He said Europe's most competitive products, including telecommunication equipment, automobiles, trains, pharmaceuticals and environmental protection related goods, are most likely to be included in the purchases.

  He also wanted the procurement team to focus more on environmental protection and talented individuals. "The current stimulus measures are made as the country tries to restructure industries. So, those purchased goods should not only meet technical standards, but also environmental standards," he said.

  "Meanwhile, the delegation should attract more talent as it purchases equipment and techniques. The current economic downturn already made China one of the most attractive places for talent," he added.

  A researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Luo Hongbo, said Premier Wen's European visit and the procurement team both demonstrated concrete steps to oppose trade protectionism.

  He said the procurement team was a practical, win-win solution to counter the economic downturn. "China should not only stimulate domestic demands, but also increase mutual demands with its trade partners."

  Sino-EU trade has been badly hit in 2009 by the economic downturn, after a very promising 2008.

  January, the trading volumes with the EU, the United States and Japan, all fell. Sino-EU trading was down 18.7 percent year on year to 27.93 billion U.S. dollars.

  China's trading volume with the EU, which accounted for 16.6 percent of the country's total in 2008, stood at 425.58 billion U.S. dollars, up 19.5 percent year on year.



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