DAVOS, Switzerland - China and Switzerland formally launched bilateral talks on a free trade agreement Friday.
Chinese Minister of Commerce Chen Deming (R, front) and Swiss Economy Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann (L, front) attend a signing ceremony to mark the official launch of negotiations between Switzerland and China for a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement, in Davos, Switzerland, on Jan. 28, 2011. [Photo/Xinhua]
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Chinese Commerce Minister Cheng Deming said the agreement talks between China and Switzerland have attracted huge attention and interest from the countries' leadership and business communities.
Cheng expected a successful conclusion of the FTA negotiations. Cheng said a free trade agreement would enhance mutual trust between the two sides and promote economic development and closer ties between China and Switzerland.
Swiss Federal Councilor Johann Schneider-Ammann expressed similar aspirations for the agreement as did his Chinese counterpart.
"The free trade agreement would further enhance trade and investment relations on a mutually beneficial basis, but also create many new opportunities for close exchange and cooperation," Schneider-Ammann said.
China and Switzerland have seen fast-growing bilateral trade and investments for decade. In the past 10 years, China's exports to Switzerland have grown by 18 percent while Switzerland registered an even stronger 25 percent surge in exports to China.
Currently, China is the largest trading partner of Switzerland in Asia, while Switzerland ranks ninth among China's trading partners in Europe.
The Chinese commerce minister is leading a delegation at Davos to attend the World Economic Forum, which started Wednesday.