6 May 2014

Africa: China-Africa Trade Cooperation Has Broad Prospects - Chinese Minister

Addis Ababa — Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's ongoing visit to African countries will inject vitality into China-Africa economic and trade cooperation, Chinese Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng said on Monday.

Fifty years after former Chinese premier Zhou Enlai's landmark visit to the continent, Li's visit is crucial to facilitating the innovation, expansion and improvement of China-Africa economic and trade cooperation, the minister said in an interview during Li's visit.

The Chinese premier's tour is likely to create a good atmosphere for further cooperation between African countries and Chinese enterprises by establishing communication platforms, he said.

According to the minister, as infrastructure construction to improve regional inter-connectivity is vital for Africa's economic integration, China, with a competitive advantage in this regard, will eye deepening cooperation on road, railway, port, aviation, electricity and communication, and Li's visit is aimed to push forward such projects.

In addition, the Chinese premier will facilitate the shift of Chinese labor-intensive industries -- such as manufacturing -- to Africa, helping the growth and prosperity of "Made in Africa" and making investment the pivot of a closer, more inclusive and sustainable China-Africa economic and trade relationship, he said.

Moreover, China will continue to help its African friends improve their living standards, offering more favorable policies in such areas as agriculture, medicine, environment and education, he said, while emphasizing friendship, fast economic growth and complementary advantages as the major pillars supporting their economic and trade ties in a new era.

Gao lauded China-Africa trade and economic cooperation as a fine example of one between developing countries, noting that the principle of sincerity, equality and mutual benefit has not changed over the past 50 years, and the continuous expansion of their cooperation has persisted despite international economic upheavals.

China-Africa trade expanded to 210.3 billion U.S. dollars in 2013, a remarkable jump from a mere 250 million in 1965. China has been Africa's largest trading partner for five consecutive years.

Chinese direct investment in Africa amounted to 25 billion dollars by the end of 2013, with more than 2,500 Chinese companies doing business in Africa, covering finance, telecommunication, energy, manufacturing and agriculture, and creating more than 100,000 local jobs.

The minister also noted the fast growth of contracted projects signed between the two sides, as Africa becomes China's second largest contracting market overseas.

By the end of 2013, the total volume of contracted projects Chinese enterprises have won in Africa reached nearly 400 billion dollars, with more than 2,200 km of railway and 3,500 km of road built by the Chinese in Africa.

Through such cooperation, Gao said, Chinese companies brought capital and technology into Africa, lowered construction costs and promoted the image of "Constructed by China."

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