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China sets out on European spending spree – report

Posted on: February 24, 2009


AFP – Tuesday, February 24

BEIJING (AFP) – – Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming was set to fly to Europe Tuesday at the head of a 300-strong team charged with spending billions of dollars on European products, state media said.

The procurement team, which will visit Spain, Germany, Switzerland and Britain, could spend 15 billion yuan (2.2 billion dollars) or “considerably” more, the China Daily reported.

“Chen can take a positive message to the world: China, as a major trading power, has no interest in adopting protectionism,” Song Hong, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences think-tank, was quoted as saying.

Xinhua news agency said the delegation would be made up of about 300 officials and business people.

The commerce ministry’s spokesman Yao Jian said last week that the delegation would mainly buy technology and equipment.

The China Daily Tuesday cited Yao as saying that the country’s demand for European goods was growing as a result of the roll-out of a four-trillion-yuan economic stimulus package that includes huge infrastructure projects.

“Europe has an obvious edge in providing us with the equipment we need,” he said, according to the paper.

The mission also aims to strengthen China-Europe trade ties prior to President Hu Jintao’s trip to the Group of 20 Major Economies Summit, to be held in London in April, the China Daily said.

The newspaper said the mission, first announced by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao during his visit to Britain early this month, would showcase China’s strong domestic demand and determination to fight trade protectionism.

China has said it is “deeply concerned” over trade protectionism in other countries amid the global economic crisis, hitting out at the “Buy American” clause in the huge US economic stimulus package.

The “Buy American” clause of the 787-billion-dollar stimulus package requires the use of US iron, steel and manufactured goods in public works projects funded by the bill.

The European Union is China’s largest trading partner, its most important source for technology imports and its largest export destination, while China is the EU’s second largest trading partner.

Bilateral trade rose by 19.5 percent to 425.6 billion dollars in 2008, with China holding a trade surplus of 160 billion dollars, Chinese official data showed.

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