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China, West Africa initiate trade forum for stronger economic ties
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Nearly 500 business leaders of China and West African countries on Tuesday gathered in Beijing to seek ways to further their economic cooperation.

China and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) opened their first-ever economic and trade forum on Tuesday morning.

"Thank you for bringing so many African trade ministers and business leaders to this forum," Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan told President of ECOWAS Commission Mohamed Ibn Chambas.

Chambas headed a delegation of 450 private and public sector operators, which were from the 15 ECOWAS member states, for the four-day inaugural forum.

As a follow-up action to a successful China-Africa cooperation summit in 2006, the forum focused on investments in infrastructure, exploitation of natural resources, agriculture, banking and other services.

While meeting with Chambas, the Chinese vice premier reviewed the long-standing friendship between China and Africa.

"China and West Africa are economically complementary and enjoy great potential for stronger cooperation," Wang said.

Wang said China and Africa should continue to innovate their ways of cooperation and create more areas for joint development.

The Chinese government would encourage those businesses with strong performances and good credit to participate in African development, Wang said.

In response, Chambas said the establishment of the trade forum would provide a regional platform for better economic collaboration between China and ECOWAS, which has a population of nearly 250 million people.

China and ECOWAS also signed a memorandum of understanding on holding the forum annually.

(Xinhua News Agency September 24, 2008)

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