Zhang Dejiang (R), chairman of the Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress, meets with Hannes Germann, president of the Council of States of Switzerland's Federal Assembly, in Beijing, China, July 3, 2014. (Xinhua/Huang Jingwen)
BEIJING, July 3 (Xinhua) -- China and Switzerland agreed in Beijing on Thursday to facilitate closer parliamentary exchanges and push forward stronger bilateral ties.
The consensus was reached in the talks between China's top legislator Zhang Dejiang and Hannes Germann, president of the Council of States of Switzerland's Federal Assembly.
Both of them hailed the new Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between China and Switzerland that took effect on Tuesday.
Zhang, chairman of the Chinese National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, said the FTA has brought new opportunities to closer bilateral cooperation. He urged joint efforts to boost new achievements of their cooperation in all fields.
Germann called the FTA as a milestone in bilateral friendship.
The FTA, signed in Beijing on July 6, 2013, after nine rounds of negotiations over more than two years, is the first free trade pact between China and a country in continental Europe.
According to the FTA, as much as 99.7 percent of Chinese exports to Switzerland will be immediately exempt from tariffs, while 84.2 percent of Swiss exports to China will eventually receive zero tariffs.
Recalling that Switzerland was one of the first western countries that formed diplomatic ties with the new China, Zhang said the two countries had achieved remarkable progress.
He recalled the China visit of Swiss President Ueli Maurer in July of 2013, in which Maurer met with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang.
"Though the two countries differ in political systems and their paths for development, they enjoy the same goals of long-lasting peace and prosperity," he said.
Zhang called on both sides to enhance understanding about each other's systems and national condition, and continue to support one another on issues regarding their core interests and major concerns.
The NPC hopes to beef up exchanges with the Swiss Federal Assembly, and deepen cooperation in various areas to consolidate the public basis for bilateral friendship, Zhang said.
Germann told Zhang that Switzerland adheres to the one-China policy and is willing to further cement economic links and win-win cooperation with China.
The Swiss Federal Assembly hopes to strengthen exchanges and share experience with the NPC, to contribute to stronger bilateral friendship, he added.
Germann is visiting China from July 3 to 9 as Zhang's guest.