Mon, Apr 09, 2007 - Page 12 News List

Swiss want free-trade deal with China

AGENCIES , ZURICH AND TOKYO

Switzerland aims to start talks to clinch a free-trade agreement with China, Swiss Economy Minister Doris Leuthard was quoted as saying yesterday.

"I will lead a large business delegation to China in June, and will try to give support so that China opens negotiations with Switzerland," Leuthard told the Neue Zuercher Zeitung am Sonntag newspaper in an interview.

China is in free trade talks with Iceland and will start talks with Norway, Leuthard said. Both countries are members of the four-member European Free Trade Association, along with Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

"Such deals are important for Switzerland, given that we are not a member of the European Union, nor of the North-American NAFTA free trade zone or the Asian community of nations," Leuthard said.

China is negotiating a range of free-trade agreements. Prime Minister Wen Jiabao's (溫家寶) visit to Japan this week will provide an opportunity for discussions on trade with his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe.

In contrast, Wen has called for talks with South Korea on a free-trade area to be fast-tracked ahead of his visit to Seoul next week following South Korea's free-trade deal with the US last Monday and as global trade talks falter, Chinese state press reported on Friday.

also see stories:

FTA sheds light on troubled US-S Korea alliance

Stakes are high for Wen's Japan trip

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