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Sino-African Economic Relations to Be Promoted: Official

Sino-African economic and trade relations will be promoted to a higher level due to Chinese President Hu Jintao's upcoming visit to Africa, a senior Chinese trade official said Friday.


Yu Guangzhou, deputy minister of commerce, said at an exclusive interview with Xinhua that China in the new year will carry out economic and trade cooperation with African countries under the principles of equality and mutual benefit, taking diverse forms, emphasizing concrete results and achieving common development.


"China will seek overall cooperation with African countries and sub-regional organizations in such key fields as trade, investment, infrastructure construction, natural resources and energy development, human resources development and agriculture," Yu said.



Trade between China and Africa increased rapidly over the last several years. Chinese customs figures show that Sino-African trade volume from January to November of 2003 amounted to US$16.64 billion, up 48.4 percent from the same period a year ago.


The vice minister attributed the rise to China's expanded exports of electronic products, machinery and high-tech products to Africa and China's surging imports of crude oil and other natural resources from Africa.


"The good momentum in Sino-African economic relations and trade was a result of the long-term friendly political relations, and the joint commitment to economic growth," Yu said. "In the years to come, we are firmly convinced that greater potential will be tapped in bilateral trade as both Chinese and African economies keep growing."


Africa has been a key region where China encourages its businesses to inject investment. So far, the Chinese government has set up 11 centers for investment and trade promotion in Africa, providing business information and consultation to local Chinese enterprises.


In addition, Yu said, the Chinese government has set up special funds, formulated the financial supporting policies and simplified relevant procedures to encourage entrepreneurs to invest abroad.


With the stabilization of overall political situation and the improvement of investment environment in Africa, Chinese businesses are becoming more and more interested in areas like resources exploration, infrastructure construction, telecommunications and pharmaceutical industry in Africa.


By the end of 2003, the number of Chinese enterprises in Africa with approval or registration by the Ministry of Commerce had totaled 638, with a contractual Chinese investment volume of US$925 million.


The investment has been made in such fields as trade, transportation, tourism, engineering, consultation services, mechanics, light industry, household electrical appliances, textile, and agriculture.


"Chinese investment in Africa has resulted in a win-win outcome for both China and Africa," Yu Guangzhou said. "While Chinese firms profited, they helped increase jobs and fueled local economic growth."


The vice-minister stressed that China's assistance to Africa will continue.


"China's assistance to Africa will not be affected by the increase of trade and investment," he said. "China will continue to provide friendly African countries with unconditional assistance within its capacity."


In the second ministerial-level conference of the China-Africa Cooperation Forum last month in Ethiopia, China pledged to help train about 10,000 African professionals in the next three years.


According to Yu Guangzhou, the training is aimed to boost African countries' capability of realizing independent and sustainable economic development.

(Xinhua News Agency January 23, 2004)

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