China, Palestine to facilitate negotiations on free trade agreement
Published: Jun 15, 2023 10:29 PM
National flags of China and the State of Palestine Photo: VCG

National flags of China and the State of Palestine Photo: VCG

China and Palestine have pledged to facilitate negotiations on a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) while promoting the upgrading of trade and investment cooperation to a new level, Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) spokesperson Shu Jueting said on Thursday.

China and Palestine issued a joint statement on the establishment of a strategic partnership on Wednesday during Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' state visit to China.

Speaking at a regular press conference, the MOFCOM spokesperson said that the two heads of state announced the establishment of a China-Palestine strategic partnership to comprehensively promote friendly cooperation in various fields and chart the course for the future development of China-Palestine relations and economic and trade cooperation.

The MOFCOM will continue to closely collaborate with the relevant departments of Palestine to effectively implement the important consensus reached by the leaders of both countries, Shu said.

Both sides will continue to leverage the role of the China-Palestine Joint Economic and Trade Committee to build more consensuses on economic and trade cooperation, she said, noting that "we are willing to expedite the negotiation process of the China-Palestine FTA and promote the upgrading of bilateral trade and investment cooperation."

China welcomes Palestine's participation in trade fairs such as the China International Import Expo and the China-Arab States Expo, where Palestine's business environment and distinctive products can be promoted, the spokesperson said.

China is also willing to continue implementing projects that contribute to Palestine's economic development and the improvement of people's livelihoods based on Palestinian needs, which Shu said will continually inject new momentum and make new contributions to the development of the China-Palestine strategic partnership.

President Mahmoud Abbas is the first Arab head of state received by China this year, which fully demonstrates the great importance he attaches to China-Palestine relations and strengthening solidarity and cooperation with Arab countries, Li Shaoxian, director of the China-Arab Research Institute at Ningxia University, told the Global Times on Thursday.

"We are a major importer of Palestine's goods, and some key Palestine's exports, mainly agricultural products, find foothold in the Chinese market," Li said, indicating the strong trade ties.

The strong economic and trade relationship is based on mutual trust and respect, the expert said.

"There is no problem in China-Palestine relations. Palestine has always upheld our core interests, and we have always firmly supported the just cause of the Palestinian people to restore their legitimate national rights," Li said.

China has always been a strong supporter and provided humanitarian and development aid to Palestine, and it has successively implemented and completed more than 30 aid projects such as Gaza secondary school, Gaza coastal road and the Ramallah road construction project.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, China provided Palestine with a large amount of anti-epidemic materials, sent a medical expert team and organized video exchanges between health experts and Palestine.

China donated 100,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to Palestine, and jointly donated 500,000 doses of vaccine to the Gaza Strip with Egypt.

In December 2022, the Chinese government and the Palestinian government signed a memorandum of understanding on Belt and Road Initiative cooperation, which brings even more benefits to the people of both countries.

In addition to donations and support, economic and trade exchanges are an unavoidable topic between China and Palestine. In 2022, bilateral trade reached $158 million, a year-on-year increase of more than 23 percent.