Maputo — Trade between Mozambique and China was worth 1.1 billion US dollars between January and October this year, according to Cao Jiachang, the deputy general director of the Africa and West Asian Affairs Department of the Chinese Trade Ministry.
Speaking to Mozambican reporters in Beijing, Cao said this was an increase of 46 per cent compared with the same period in 2011.
For all of 2011, the volume of trade between the two countries reached almost a billion dollars, which was a 37 per cent increase on the 2010 figure. The pattern in recent years has been for a rapid increase in trade between Mozambique and China, at an average of more than 30 per cent a year.
In 2011, Mozambique occupied the 23rd position in the list of China's most important trade partners. It occupied the same position in the first ten months of this year, despite the sharp rise in Sino-Mozambican trade.
"This shows we have to make a greater effort to improve our bilateral trade", said Cao.
He noted that China's exports to Mozambique are very diverse, but the same is not true of Mozambique's exports to China, which consist essentially of timber and minerals. However, Cao said that China is willing to help Mozambique expands its exports.
"We have many exhibitions in China, and some of them can serve as a platform for Mozambican products", he added.
The Chinese authorities also say they are pleased with the political stability and peace that Mozambique has enjoyed since 1992, when the General Peace Agreement between the government and the apartheid-backed Renamo rebels brought an end to the war of destabilization.
Thanks to peace and stability, Cao said, Mozambique has been able to maintain noteworthy levels of economic growth and development, enabling the country to attract foreign investment and expand its trade.
The Chinese official believed that Mozambique has enormous potential thanks to its huge reserves of natural resources, and excellent conditions for agriculture.
As for direct Chinese investment in Mozambique, the accumulated sum is less than 100 million dollars, said Cao. However, this figure only refers to investment registered through official channels at central government level. The amount could be much larger if it included the sums approved by provincial and municipal levels, he added.
The Chinese investments are mostly concentrated in cement factories, mining, agriculture and fisheries. Some Chinese companies have also expressed an interest in cooperating with Mozambique in the generation and distribution of electricity.
As for trade between China and the entire African continent, this reached 166.3 billion dollars in 2011, an increase of 31 per cent compared with the 2010 figure.
Exports from China to Africa reached 73.1 billion dollars (an increase of 22 per cent), while China's imports from Africa reached 93.2 billion dollars (an increase of 39 per cent).
From January to October this year, trade between Africa and China was valued at 163.9 billion dollars.
"Our exports to Africa reached 69.4 billion dollars, which was an increase of 16 per cent compared with the same period in 2011", said Cao. "Our imports from Africa were 94.5 billion dollars, which was an increase of 25 per cent".
In 2011, the largest African trading partners of China were South Africa, Angola, Sudan, Nigeria and Egypt. In the period from January to August this year, the list underwent slight changes. It is still headed by South Africa, followed by Angola, Nigeria, Egypt and Libya.
By late September this year, Chinese companies had signed contracts to the value of 193.8 billion dollars in Africa, covering the areas of finance, telecommunications, tourism, manufacturing and mining.
"Last year we invested more than 40 billion dollars in Africa, where more than 2,000 Chinese companies are operating, which created countless job opportunities", said Cao.