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Wen's Africa Tour Boosts Bilateral Investment
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Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's seven-nation Africa tour is rousing enthusiasm for greater investment between China and the continent.


Chu Shuntang, a division director of the China-Africa Business Council, told Xinhua on Monday that Wen and his delegation of business representatives would increase trade exchanges and attract more Chinese investment to Africa.


Wen's visit to Egypt, Ghana, the Republic of Congo, Angola, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda this week is regarded as an important diplomatic follow-up to the Chinese government's first African Policy Paper issued early this year and President Hu Jintao's visit in April.


Economists believe the "Africa heat" in China's diplomacy has been expanded to the economic field. Direct investment into Africa has grown to US$1.18 billion, and there are now nearly 700 Chinese companies there.


Private investment is also growing between China and Africa. Mahamat Adam, a Cameroon businessman who has worked in Beijing for more than seven years, is helping Chinese companies do business in Africa.


Adam and his Africaccess Consulting Company have introduced many African investment projects to Chinese investors. He said new processing factories in Africa are a good choice for Chinese investors since many African countries have issued favorable investment policies.


The Chinese government said in its first African policy paper that it would support investment in Africa by offering favorable loans and credits, while welcoming African companies to invest in China.


Chu said the China-Africa Business Council is planning to set up branch agencies in many African countries, including Nigeria, Ghana, Tanzania, Cameroon and Kenya, to serve Chinese investors.


China's largest African trade partner, South Africa, also expressed enthusiasm in welcoming Chinese investors. South African Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad said last week that China's investment was welcomed in South Africa not only in the traditional mining and manufacturing fields, but also in energy, finance, biotechnology, agricultural products processing and tourism.


In the first four months this year, trade volume between China and South Africa increased 22.7 percent year-on-year to US$2.61 billion, with the annual total predicted to hit US$8 billion.


By the end of 2005, more than 100 Chinese companies had invested about US$250 million in trade, agriculture, textiles, electronics, mining, transport and other fields in South Africa.


Wen outlined China's policy towards Africa in Egypt on Sunday, saying the government wanted to encourage more domestic companies to invest in Africa to raise the continent's capacity for self development.


A report from Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has stated that Chinese products posed no threat to African producers as the low prices increased the purchasing power African residents.


(Xinhua News Agency June 20, 2006)

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