Reference:CGTN | Updated:28 Aug 2020
Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi called for an acceleration in free trade talks with Norway as he concluded a visit to the country.
After meeting Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg and Foreign Minister Ine Soreide on Thursday, Wang hailed China's relationship with Norway and called for both sides to build on their partnership.
"Given the impact of COVID-19, early completion of the China-Norway FTA negotiations is of great significance to the bilateral economic relations and trade as well as to the efforts to keep the global supply chain open and connected," he said at a media briefing with Soreide. "The two sides need to speed up the negotiation and bring it to an early conclusion."
The Chinese market is of particular importance to Norway's powerful fishing industry, which has been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
Wang said that in-person meetings between Chinese and Norwegian officials have not only shown that both sides are confident in defeating the pandemic, but also that China and Norway are ready to gradually resume cooperation and exchange of personnel.
He said that the Chinese side was ready to support the trade, while ensuring food safety standards were upheld.
He also highlighted opportunities on other maritime matters, including conservation and sustainable use of resources, culture, a taxation agreement and winter sports.
With Norway set to join the United Nations Security Council as a non-permanent member, Wang stressed the necessity for international rules-based cooperation, a point supported by Soreide.
The Norwegian government has underlined strengthening cooperation with China, especially on maritime issues and coronavirus vaccine research and development.
Both the prime minister and the foreign minister expressed their hope that a free trade agreement between China and Norway can be reached as soon as possible.