Angola's social development drives up trade with China

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Bilateral trade between China and Angola will "continue to expand in 2012 and the trade structure will be diversified" thanks to Angola's fast social development, the African nation's ambassador to China said.

"Both Angola and China are devoted to diversifying trade, especially trade related to social development, and trade volume in 2012 will continue to increase, judging from Angola's expanding demand," Garcia Bires said.

Angola embarked on fast development after the end of a civil war in 2002. It was China's second-largest trade partner in Africa in 2011 and the second-largest crude oil provider.

China is Angola's biggest trade partner and export destination as well as the fourth-largest importer. Bilateral trade reached $27.67 billion in 2011, up 11.5 percent year-on-year. China's imports, mainly crude oil and diamonds, increased 9.1 percent to $24.89 billion while China's exports, including mechanical and electrical products, machinery parts and construction materials, surged 38.8 percent, according to China's General Administration of Customs.

At present, there is no sign that China will increase oil imports from Angola, though China's cut in oil imports from Iran in January and the recent oil supply outage in South Sudan could add further pressure to China's tight oil supply.

"It's difficult to say if Angola will increase oil exports to China before negotiations occur. Angola's oil exports are also determined by its oil production capability and its supplies to neighboring areas," Bires said.

Trade in diamonds, China's other major import from Angola, will continue to surge owing to strong investment demand in the second-largest market for the diamonds.

"Angola's production of diamond is promising and the trade with China is going up. There are many areas awaiting exploration and Angola welcomes Chinese investors to set up joint ventures" in the sector, Bires said.

Liu Jianhua, secretary-general of the Gemological Association of China, is very optimistic about the prospects of China's diamond market after a revival from the global downturn in 2008.

"China's fast economic development over the past few decades raised incomes, and people began to turn to diamonds, especially large-carat diamonds, to hedge against high inflation," he said.

China's diamond transaction volume reached a record of $4.7 billion in 2011, with imports exceeding $2 billion, according to the Shanghai Diamond Exchange.

China's investments in Angola, "mainly centered in infrastructure, social development including schools and hospitals, and agriculture, also help to expand bilateral trade since the investments lead to the purchase of engineering materials from China", according to Bires.

"In addition to State-owned companies, private businesses are more and more interested in investing in Angola in areas ranging from clothes to medicine and telecom products," Bires said.

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