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China, EU seek trade expansion in 2004
By Zhang Jin (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-03-15 23:42

China-European Union trade is expected to increase in 2004 thanks to a growing EU and China's entry into the World Trade Organization, a senior EU official said Monday.

Visiting EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy said in Beijing that he wants China to "play its role" in moving forward the Doha Development Agenda.

"Bilateral trade will increase (after the EU expansion)," a confident Lamy said in an interview.

The EU is set to have 10 more members by May from the current 15.

"The expansion is in the interest of EU and also good for China," he said, referring to a trade increase between China and new EU.

Vice-Premier Wu Yi, during her meeting with the commissioner Monday, expressed her content on the current fast-growing Sino-EU trade and economic co-operation.

And she urged that China and the European Union (EU) should strengthen dialogue at all levels to solve the existing problems in bilateral trade and economic co-operation.

Lamy said the EU has paid attention to the increasing number of anti-dumping rulings placed by the EU on China. But he does not think it is a "big problem."

Anti-dumping cases involve 0.5 per cent of the total trade volume, according to the commissioner.

"That is a very limited number," he said.

But Chinese enterprises wish the EU could scrap some technical barriers to facilitate bilateral trade.

Lamy said the EU is willing to strengthen co-operation with China within the framework of the WTO and jointly push for substantial progress of the Doha Agenda.

Wu said China holds a positive stance on pushing forward the WTO Doha Development Agenda. She said China supports the multilateral talks to reach a win-win solution at the earliest date possible.

She said China is ready to step up dialogue with the EU to make efforts towards the progress of the Doha Development Agenda.

Lamy arrived in Beijing Monday morning. He will visit Shanghai today and have a speech at the EU Chamber of Commerce there.

Trade analysts say the EU could surpass Japan to be China's biggest trading partner in 2004, because of a larger EU and China's continuous efforts to reduce tariffs and open wider to trade under its WTO commitments.

But they also warned trade frictions might also accelerate with trade volume soaring.

Two-way trade reached a record US$125.2 billion in 2003, making the EU China's third largest trading partner. It is very close to the United States' US$126.3 billion. Japan is still the biggest trading partner.

January witnessed a bilateral trade volume of US$10.9 billion, the latest figure available.

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