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China, Belgium hold seminars to boost trade ties
Updated: 2004-11-23 15:03

China and Belgium started series of seminars in downtown Beijing on Monday to enhance trade and economic ties. Belgian Prince Philippe addressed the opening ceremony, vowing to further bilateral commercial cooperation, especially between small enterprises.

Leading Belgium's largest-ever business delegation, Prince Philippe said that the two countries should promote cooperation between small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and the Belgium-China equity investment fund will spur such cooperation.

As the location of the European Union headquarters, Belgium enjoys good geographic advantage and hopes to see more Chinese companies to go to Belgium for investment.

"We are important partners not only in commercial sector, but also in science, technology, education, research and culture," he said, noting Belgian enterprises hope to contribute to the Olympic Games 2008 to be held in Beijing.

Belgium is one of the first developed countries investing in China. The number of its invested projects in China reached nearly 500 by September this year, with a contractual investment of US$1.16 billion, according to Chinese Vice Minister of Commerce Zhang Zhigang.

Those projects range from telecommunication, medicine and bio-technology to printing, beer, textile machinery and steel, Zhang said, adding there is huge potential for further cooperation thanks to mutually complementary economies.

China has become Belgium's second largest trade partner and import source, as well as fourth largest export market besides EU members. The two countries' annual trade volume has surged by 300 times since they forged diplomatic ties in 1971.

In the first nine months of this year, China-Belgium trade hit US$6.6 billion, up 36 percent year-on-year and was close to the trade volume last year, according to Chinese statistics.

During the seminars, the participants will discuss issues related to the sustainable development of forestry, transportation, Chinese trade laws and two-way investment.

The 500-member delegation is composed of representatives from the financial sector, ports and airports, universities, industrial and service companies and government officials. After their two-day stay in Beijing, they will also visit Shanghai, China's economic hub.

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