The Chinese government will send a business delegation to purchase goods from Europe at the end of this month to strengthen bilateral trade ties amid the global economic downturn, according to the Ministry of Commerce.
Ministry of Commerce spokesman Yao Jian said that the delegation's trip would take in Switzerland, Germany, the United Kingdom and Spain.
Premier Wen Jiabao first announced the plan to send "procurement teams" to buy goods and services from Europe during his visit to the UK early this month.
Yao said the value of the purchases would be decided by companies and industry associations, and products to be bought would include technology, equipment and key goods and services.
"Through such an initiative in the current tightening economic environment, we want to open up markets to each other, deepen our cooperation to deal with challenges together and contribute to the revival of the global economy," said Yao.
Europe has many advanced technologies and environmental protection equipment that will help to adjust the structure of China's economy, according to Yao.
Europe is China's largest trading partner and its top export market. Bilateral trade increased 19 percent year-on-year to $425.6 billion in 2008. Trade with the European Union accounted for 16.6 percent of China's total foreign trade last year. China's exports to the EU were worth 232 billion euros.
China is a key market for the EU and is the 27-nation bloc's fastest growing export market. The EU exported goods worth 72 billion euros to China in 2007, with the figure in the first nine months of last year rising 12 percent year-on-year, according to the EU. As a result, China is the EU's second-largest trading partner and its fourth-largest export market.
During Wen's trip to Europe earlier this month, Chinese and EU officials signed nine cooperation deals covering areas such as fighting drug trafficking and improved copyright protection.
Pacts on fighting illegal logging and increasing the use of green energy sources were also signed during Wen's visit. China also signed separate trade and investment agreements with Germany and Spain.
During his visit, Wen urged European enterprises to increase their exports of advanced technological equipment to China, saying this would not only help them overcome current difficulties, but also meet the demand of the Chinese market.
In a sign of the closer ties between the two sides, the EU recently terminated an anti-dumping investigation against Chinese zinc coating plate firms.
The probe, which started in December 2007, covered nearly 200 Chinese producers and products worth $1.2 billion, making it the largest anti-dumping case launched by the EU against Chinese products since 1979.
China welcomed the EU's decision to terminate the investigation, Yao said in a statement on the ministry's website.
"Under the current situation, China and the EU should enhance cooperation and boost bilateral trade and investment to address current challenges," he said.