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Chinese Go To Europe With $15 billion To Spend

Tue, 02/24/2009 - 3:49am
By JOE McDONALD AP Business Writer BEIJING (AP) — A 200-member Chinese business delegation flew to Europe on Tuesday with plans to spend up to $15 billion on a buying trip that Beijing said was meant to promote trade amid global economic turmoil. The mission will go to Germany, Switzerland, Spain and Britain, countries visited by Premier Wen Jiabao in January, the Commerce Ministry said. China often arranges such buying missions in conjunction with high-level official visits. The delegation, led by Commerce Minister Chen Deming, will be looking for telecommunications equipment, trains, pharmaceuticals and other goods, the official Xinhua News Agency said, citing trade officials. A Commerce Ministry spokesman, Yao Jian, said last week the delegation will buy technology needed for China's economic modernization. The mission is intended to "deepen Chinese-European trade, positively expand imports from Europe and express China's support for an open market," the ministry said in a statement. It comes ahead of President Hu Jintao's trip to a London meeting April 2 of leaders of the Group of 20 major economies. China opposes projectionist measures resulting from the global slowdown, a deputy commerce minister, Gao Hucheng, was quoted as saying. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has called for governments at the meeting to renounce protectionism as part of efforts to restore global economic health. Beijing has criticized "buy local" measures like those in Washington's stimulus package and promised to avoid such restrictions in its own 4 trillion yuan ($586 billion) plan to boost China's economic growth. The buying delegation includes businesspeople from China's textile, food, machinery and other industries, the Commerce Ministry said. The 27-nation European Union is China's biggest trading partner. Total trade rose 19.5 percent in 2008 to $425.6 billion, according to China's customs agency. China reported a $160 billion trade surplus with Europe, an irritant in relations that such buying missions are intended to help ease.

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