China vows to advance talks on free trade zones with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and Israel, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said Thursday while delivering his government work report, state-owned Xinhua News Agency reported.
China started free trade negotiations in 2004 with the GCC, a regional political and economic alliance, includes Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
"China is also working to build the Asia-Pacific Free Trade Zone and will continue negotiations on investment agreements with the US and the European Union," Li was qutoed as saying at the opening of the 12th National People's Congress session.
The free trade talks are part of China's efforts to pursue the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road initiatives.
Proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013, the Belt and Road initiatives aim to connect the Pacific, the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic. The Middle East was and is at crossroads of international trade flows and cultural exchange. A 40 billion-US dollars Silk Road Fund has been put into operation since February, providing investment and financing services to economies and private players along the route.
"As a responsible and enterprising nation, China champions the vision of promoting mutually beneficial development, boosting the global economy and encouraging economic globalization," said Li. The strategy of developing free trade zones coincides with the Belt and Road initiatives.