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Ministers approve trade, investment packages
( 2003-07-24 09:40) (China Daily)

Asian economic ministers yesterday agreed on two trade and investment packages at the Fifth Asia-Europe Economic Ministers' Meeting (EMM5), which concludes here this afternoon.

The Asian economic ministers' preliminary meeting approved the two action plans, which were handed in by senior officials on Tuesday, and reached general agreement on major parts of the chairman's statement, said Yi Xiaozhun, Chinese assistant minister of commerce and also the head of the Chinese delegation.

Today's ministerial conference is expected to pass the two action plans and issue the chairman's statement.

The preliminary meeting also reviewed the ministerial conference's agenda and programme and identified and confirmed lead speakers at the conference, Yi told reporters yesterday afternoon.

Robert Madelin, European Commission (EC) director for trade relations with Asia, said EC economic ministers also agreed at another preliminary meeting that today's conference will build up mutual understanding on European Union expansion as well as economic integration in Asia.

European ministers talked about new work to be done to facilitate trade and investment and suggested setting up investment promotion offices in Asia and explore topics like protection of intellectual property rights, standards, animal and plant quarantine and electronic commerce, said Madelin.

He said European ministers also aimed to exchange views with their Asian counterparts on promoting the ongoing round of World Trade Organization (WTO) talks.

Lu Fuyuan, Chinese Minister of Commerce and EMM5 chairman, said he hoped the meeting will send a strong and positive signal to the international community on the new round of WTO talks.

The meeting has 26 member economies: China, South Korea, Japan, seven members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and 15 members of the European Union. All 26 members of the Asia-Europe Meeting sent delegations to the EMM5.

China's trade with these members increased 18.8 per cent year-on-year to US$287.5 billion last year, according to Chinese customs statistics.

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