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China, Africa to Encourage Cooperation in Private Sector
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The first all-member meeting of the China-Africa Business Council was held here on Monday, signaling new efforts by China and Africa to boost cooperation in private sector.

Wei Jianguo, China's vice minister of commerce, said at the meeting that favorable conditions have to be created to maximize the role of private businesses and inject new vigor into China-Africa cooperation.

The business council was first established in 2005 to create a service network and communication platform for Chinese and African businesses.

In the past, according to Wei, it was difficult for private businesses to get policy, capital, information and personnel support for their ventures. These resources were concentrated in public institutions or state-owned enterprises.

Wei noted China will roll out new measures to promote economic collaboration between China and Africa during a cooperation forum to be held between the two sides in November. "The Ministry of Commerce is now working with the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Finance, the China Development Bank, the Export and Import Bank of China and insurance companies to design supportive policies and measures to facilitate bilateral cooperation."

Liu Canglong, chairman of the board of directors of Sichuan Hongda Group, a big company which focuses on chemicals, metallurgy and real estate, said investing in Africa will provide Chinese private businesses with a host of opportunities.

Liu said domestic market competition is now so fierce that there is difficult for new businesses to get a toehold, but Africa is a huge market and the investment environment there keeps improving.

Liu said he hoped that by investing in Africa, Chinese enterprises would be able to help the people there enhance local infrastructure and improve their living standards. He said he also hoped that Chinese businessmen would find another "barrel of gold".

According to official Chinese statistics, bilateral trade between China and Africa totaled US$40 billion in 2005. China invested US$6.3 billion in Africa that year.

(Xinhua News Agency October 27, 2006)


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