Gao Hucheng, Chinese Minister of Commerce, on the prospects for Chinese-African economic & trade cooperation

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Gao Hucheng, Chinese Minister of Commerce

Five decades ago, China and Africa supported one another for national liberation and independence, building a profound friendship and mutual trust, and laying a solid foundation for the sound development of Chinese-African economic and trade cooperation.

In the past 50 years this cooperative relationship has boasted remarkable achievements and witnessed the development of South-South cooperation. At present, Chinese-African economic and trade cooperation has basically formed a multi-tiered, wide-ranging and all-encompassing pattern, becoming an indispensable part of one another’s economic growth. This has set a good standard for South-South cooperation, illustrating a bright future with distinct features for cooperation between developing countries.

Trade between China and Africa has expanded on a large scale. In 1965 trade between the two regions amounted to only $250m. In 2013 the bilateral trade volume reached $210.3bn, exceeding $200bn for the first time. China has been Africa’s largest trade partner for five consecutive years. The goods traded have shifted from agricultural products and daily consumer goods to those in all aspects of economic development and people’s livelihood, enriching and improving the lives of African and Chinese people. China’s investment in Africa also continues to grow. By the end of 2013 China’s direct investment in Africa amounted to $25bn. Behind this figure are more than 2500 Chinese enterprises in Africa, operating in fields like finance, telecommunications, energy, manufacturing and agriculture, and creating more than 100,000 jobs on the continent.

Chinese-African cooperation on contracted projects is growing rapidly. Africa is the second-largest market for China’s contracted projects overseas. By the end of 2013 the accumulated volume of contracted projects undertaken by Chinese companies in Africa was worth about $400bn, with more than 2200 km of railroad laid and 3500 km of highway built. Through cooperation, Chinese enterprises have brought capital and technological know-how to Africa, thereby reducing construction costs, changing the outlook of Africa and making the name “Built by China” famous.

Both China and Africa have enjoyed rapid economic growth, which points to the need for further bilateral cooperation. Africa boasts a huge population and tremendous market volume, with great potential for economic development. Over the past 10 years the African economy has maintained an annual average growth rate of 5%, and statistics on consumer demands and cooperation requirements have been regularly released. China’s rapid economic expansion has also brought about opportunities for the sustainable development of the African economy, and even the global economy. The deepening cooperation of these two fast-growing economies will produce sound economic expansion and bring further substantial benefits to both peoples, along with more business opportunities.

The Chinese and African economies complement one another, and will continue to do so with further cooperation. China has entered the middle stage of industrialisation, with strong output capability in terms of capital, technology and productivity. Businesses also have a strong desire to “go global.” Africa is in the early stages of industrialisation and is in urgent need of capital, experience and technology to promote economic integration, attract foreign funds and create more jobs, so as to adjust its industrial structure and achieve economic transformation.

The cooperative relationship of the past 50 years is now facing a new environment and specific requirements. Premier Li Keqiang’s visit to Africa at such a historic time is of great significance in urging both sides to expand cooperation, improve the efficiency and quality of the relationship and accelerate transformation and upgrades so as to better serve the livelihood and development of their own economies and people. We believe this visit will benefit Chinese-African economic and trade cooperation with new direction and new vigour, to take the relationship to the next level.

Sourced from the Ministry of Commerce

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