Bei­jing, Bern push for open econ­omy

Swiss pres­i­dent says she and Xi share ‘same val­ues’ on trade

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By FU JING in Bern and AN BAIJIE in Bei­jing

Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping and his Swiss coun­ter­part, Doris Leuthard, have both ex­pressed strong po­lit­i­cal will to ad­vo­cate an open econ­omy and op­pose pro­tec­tion­ism, shortly be­fore Xi’s ar­rival in Switzer­land.

Xi pub­lished a signed ar­ti­cle on Fri­day in Neue Zuercher Zeitung, a lead­ing Swiss daily news­pa­per, i n which he spoke highly of Switzer­land’s sup­port for in­ter­na­tion­al­iza­tion of the ren­minbi, its par­tic­i­pa­tion in the found­ing of the Asian In­fras­truc­ture In­vest­ment Bank and mu­tual visa ex­emp­tion for diplo­matic pass­port hold­ers.

“We may ac­tively ex­plore the pos­si­bil­ity of up­grad­ing the Free Trade Agree­ment and set a good ex­am­ple of pro­mot­ing a free and open international trade and in­vest­ment sys­tem,” Xi said in the ar­ti­cle.

China will con­tinue to be a huge mar­ket sup­port­ing world eco­nomic growth, a hot des­ti­na­tion for for­eign in­vest­ment and a con­trib­u­tor to the well-be­ing of peo­ple around the world, Xi wrote.

Leuthard, the Swiss Con- fed­er­a­tion pres­i­dent, said in an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view with China Daily on Thurs­day that Xi shares her phi­los­o­phy that open­ness and in­clu­sive­ness are nec­es­sary to bring win-win re­sults for the coun­tries.

“Only open­ness and an open econ­omy can have bet­ter re­sults, and nowa­days we can­not avoid go­ing global,” Leuthard said i n Bern, the Swiss cap­i­tal.

“We fight against pro­tec­tion­ism, and Pres­i­dent Xi shares the same val­ues and phi­los­o­phy.”

Leuthard re­vealed that dur­ing Xi’s stay in Switzer­land from Jan­uary 15 to 18, the two coun­tries will send strong sig­nals to drum up global co­op­er­a­tion and fight closed-door poli­cies.

Xi is sched­uled to at­tend the World Eco­nomic Fo­rum an­nual meet­ing in Davos and visit other international or­ga­ni­za­tions af­ter the state visit.

“I think many coun­tries are on our side, and they know co­op­er­a­tion is much bet­ter than iso­la­tion­ism and pro­tec­tion­ism,” Leuthard said.

She also said that both coun­tries will an­nounce an up­grade to their free trade agree­ment, which took ef­fect in July 2014 and helped waive the ma­jor­ity of tar­iffs in two-way trade.

Leuthard said both sides have de­cided to re­duce or elim­i­nate more tar­iffs to fa­cil­i­tate trade flow.

She also noted chal­lenges in the global fi­nan­cial mar­ket and the econ­omy of Switzer­land, the sev­enth­largest fi­nan­cial mar­ket in the world.

She added that she was “keen to learn” Xi’s views on the chal­lenges.

She also said both sides will deepen co­op­er­a­tion in the en­ergy sec­tor af­ter al­ready hav­ing reached agree­ments deal­ing with en­vi­ron­men­tal prob­lems.

“I know pol­lu­tion is quite se­vere in China and that’s also why we want to share our ex­pe­ri­ences and tech­nolo­gies in ex­pand­ing co­op­er­a­tion in en­ergy and en­vi­ron­ment,” she said.

Not­ing that some ur­ban re­gions of China still rely on coal burn­ing for heat­ing, she said af­ford­able re­place­ments and tech­nolo­gies al­ready ex­ist. “It is not about cost but adapt­ing to changes,” she said.

Both sides will also pro­claim 2017 as the year of Sino-Swiss tourism pro­mo­tion, and the Swiss pres­i­dent said that due to China’s ris­ing mid­dle class, more tourists will stay in Switzer­land longer.

“We are pleased that many Chi­nese peo­ple buy Swiss watches dur­ing their stay here as well,” she said.

Leuthard, who vis­ited China in Au­gust, took over from Jo­hann N. Sch­nei­derAm­mann as Swiss pres­i­dent on Jan 1.

We are pleased that many Chi­nese peo­ple buy Swiss watches dur­ing their stay here as well.” Doris Leuthard, Swiss Con­fed­er­a­tion pres­i­dent

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