Ecns | 17 January 2017
China and Switzerland vow to upgrade FTA
Chinese President Xi Jinping praised the China-Swiss relationship on Monday, the second day of his state visit to the alpine nation. Speaking alongside Swiss President Doris Leuthard at a press conference in Bern, he said the two nations will maintain close high-level exchanges, and deepen cooperation in trade, technology, finance, and people-to-people exchanges.[Special coverage]
The two leaders earlier witnessed the signing of 10 agreements between their countries, and a deal to upgrade a free trade agreement (FTA) signed in 2013 was agreed. Xi vowed to upgrade sections of the FTA and encourage further innovation, as well as expand the scale of cooperation in the finance and insurance fields.
Xi also acknowledged "uncertainty in the world economy" and pledged to work hard to stabilize global peace and push for development. Xi said China and Switzerland will work together to maintain an open and inclusive global trade system, and push the global governance system to develop in a fairer and reasonable direction.
Xi hailed China and Switzerland as zealous and engaging participants, protectors and constructors in global governance. "We have similar stances in anti-protectionism, peacefully solving global issues and other big global issues."
Leuthard stressed the success of the free trade agreement signed by China and Switzerland. She told the press conference in Bern: "(We are looking for) solutions to deepen the free trade agreement which was signed in 2013… This FTA has worked very well. We are using the visit of President Xi Jinping to sign yet another agreement for free trade."
She also praised China for "fighting and standing up for free trade and the principles of the WTO (World Trade Organization)."
Xi highlighted an upgrade to the technology sector, saying Made in China 2025 and Swiss Industry 4.0 could team up to further promote innovative technology between the two countries.
He invited the Swiss president to attend the China-held International Cooperation Summit Forum on the Belt and Road Initiative this May, and promised to get Switzerland more involved in the project.
The two countries also promised further cooperation in tourism, culture, and winter sports, taking advantage of the 2022 Winter Olympics held in Beijing to share in the opportunities the Games will bring.
Xi added that China will build a cultural center in Bern, support promotion of Swiss culture in China, and enhance people-to-people exchanges.
Xi and Leuthard witnessed the signing of 10 agreements and memorandums of understanding on Monday in areas including energy, copyright, culture, education and sports.
Xi flew from Beijing to Zurich on Sunday. He is scheduled to attend the 2017 World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos on Tuesday, and visit Geneva headquarters of the United Nations, the World Health Organization and the International Olympic Committee on Wednesday.