Talks have begun in Brussels to set up the first formal trade agreement between the European Economic Community and China.
Talks have begun in Brussels to set up the first formal trade agreement between the European Economic Community and China. Previously, China and trade ties with individual Common Market countries, but these expired in 1974. Since then, Chinese and EEC officials have been engaged in much preliminary work leading up to the Brussels talks.
SYNOPSIS: Leader of the Chinese delegation is Mr. Sun So-chang, the head of the Western European department at China's Foreign Trade Ministry. Observers felt the Chinese would initially want greater political than economic benefits from the agreement.
Both sides were hoping the five-year agreement would be initialled at the end of their week of talks. Apart from Rumania, China was the only nation to respond to an outline of a non-preferential trade agreement that the Community proposed to all communist countries at the end of 1974.
China was interested because it is committed to the concept of a strong, unified Western Europe as a counterweight to the Soviet Union. Next to Japan, the Common Market is already China's largest trading partner. In 1976, trade between the two was worth about two billion dollars. Officials said that, after an agreement was signed, certain import quotas would probably be removed to give China wider access to EEC markets.