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Commerce Minister Confident About China-Africa Trade
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China and Africa can build on their past rapid trade growth to lift bilateral cooperation to a higher level, and China will seriously honor the fresh pledges made by President Hu Jintao to this objective, Commerce Minister Bo Xilai said on Monday.


He said Hu's proposals were "concrete and pragmatic" and would give a forceful spur to the Sino-African trade cooperation.


The minister said China would assist African countries to seek economic independence, broaden the spheres of bilateral cooperation and strive to realize the goal of mutual benefit and common prosperity.


Chinese companies with an advantage in engineering can help African countries build infrastructure facilities, Bo noted.


At the Sunday-closed Beijing Summit of the Forum on China- Africa Cooperation, President Hu pledged China would double aid and offer US$5 billion in loans and credits to Africa by 2009, provide US$3 billion of preferential loans and US$2 billion of preferential buyer's credit loans to Africa and cancel more debt owed by poor African countries.


Hu also pledged China would further open up its market to Africa by increasing the number of tariff-free products from the continent from 190 to 440, and establish up to five trade and economic cooperation zones there.


China has hoped to expand its trade with African countries to US$100 billion by 2010, more than double the 2005 year level of US$39.7 billion. The figure grew 42 percent year-on-year in the first months to US$40.6 billion.


(Xinhua News Agency November 7, 2006)


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