Markets

China, Netherlands sign trade pacts

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — China and the Netherlands signed a trade pact Sunday pledging Dutch dairy expertise to help Chinese producers boost the quality and quantity of their milk.

The deal signed at a ceremony at Prime Minister Mark Rutte's official residence in The Hague is another step by China to rehabilitate the reputation of its dairy industry in the aftermath of tainted milk product scandals.

It was part of a raft of deals and memoranda of understanding inked on the second day of a state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is in the Netherlands with a large trade delegation. In 2008, some Chinese milk brands were found to be tainted with the chemical melamine, which can cause kidney damage and other injuries. Some suppliers added it to fool protein tests on watered-down supplies.

Imported milk products like baby formula still have a reputation for safety in China and command far higher prices than local brands. The Dutch government said in a statement that experts will help China increase its annual milk production to 40 billion kilograms (88 billion pounds) in coming years.

After his meeting with Rutte, Xi spoke to a business conference in the seaside resort town of Noordwijk before visiting the world famous Keukenhof flower garden, where his wife Peng Liyuan christened a new strain of tulip called the Cathay.

After his state visit ends Sunday, Xi is staying in the Netherlands to take part in the two-day Nuclear Security Summit starting Monday in The Hague before travelling to France, Germany and Belgium later in the week.

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