Chinese Premier Li Keqiang is in Switzerland to sign a free trade pact with the Alpine nation — the first comprehensive agreement the country has reached with a major western economy.

Li met with Swiss officials Friday in Bern, where he is due to ink the deal after three years of talks.

In an op-ed published by Swiss newspaper Neue Zuercher Zeitung Thursday, Li said the agreement showed China is committed to free trade.

The two nations' trade volume last year topped $26 billion.

Switzerland is the first European stop on Li's inaugural trip abroad since taking office in March. He travels to Germany on Saturday for talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Concerns have grown recently about a possible trade war between China and the EU over solar energy products.