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Chen Deming: Speech at the 5th Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation

Speech at the 5th Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation

CHEN Deming
Minister of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China
19th July, 2012, Beijing

Your Excellency Mohammed Kamel Amr, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Arab Republic of Egypt,
Ministers and colleagues,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Dear friends,

It is my great pleasure to join you in Beijing in the midsummer to review the fruitful achievement of trade and economic cooperation between China and Africa in the past three years and to draw the grand blueprint of this cooperative relationship in the next three years. First and for most, I shall, on behalf of the Ministry of Commerce of China, extend warm welcome to all the friends, new and old, who attend this meeting.

The 4th Ministerial Meeting of FOCAC was held in Sharm el Sheikh in November 2009. At that meeting, Premier Wen Jiabao announced on behalf of the Chinese government eight new measures aimed at advancing the cooperation between China and Africa and hence turned a new chapter of friendship and cooperation between the two sides. Over the past three years China and African countries have been working closely, overcoming difficulties and tackling challenges to ensure effective implementation of all the measures.

-------- Remarkable results are made in financing arrangements. China and African countries have signed agreements on loans of preferential nature with a total value of nearly USD 9 billion. China will over-accomplish this task by providing preferential credit worth more than USD 10 billion before the end of this year. The credit facility earmarked for African SMEs established by China Development Bank committed to issuing USD 1.08 billion of which USD 458 million have been disbursed. China also honoured the debt exemption commitments under the eight new measures and wrote off fourteen debts owned by nine African countries.

-------- The Chinese market is opened wider to Africa. China now exempts import duty of 60% of exports of thirty African least developed countries that have diplomatic relations with China, covering more than 4700 tariff lines.

-------- Projects of agricultural cooperation are being executed smoothly. In addition to the fifteen agricultural demonstration centers financed with Chinese assistance, China will help construct five new centers, among which construction of three new centers has already started and that of the other two will start before the end of 2012. China has sent 33 agricultural technical teams to African countries and will send another seventeen by the end of this year. At the same time China will complete the training of 2,000 African agricultural technical personnel.

-------- Healthcare projects are progressing well. China plans to provide equipment and materials for 35 hospitals and 29 malaria control centers in Africa. Nine batches of equipment and materials have been shipped or delivered for the hospitals and seven for the anti-malaria centers. The remaining part will be shipped or delivered before the end of 2012. Training of 3,000 African doctors and nurses will also be completed by the end of this year.
-------- Education and human resources development projects are in full swing. China has provided teaching facilities for 42 African schools, started the construction of one new school, and will start the construction of another 27 new schools before the end of 2012. China will also train 24,881 personnel of all kinds for African countries including 1,500 principals and teachers, which far exceeds the set task of training 20,000 personnel.

-------- A hundred clean energy projects are being executed effectively. Twenty-six projects have seen the start of construction or have been delivered to the African side while for the other 79 projects construction will start or delivery will be made before the end of 2012.

In order to ensure the effective implementation of the above measures, relevant authorities of both China and African countries made unremitting efforts, of which I am very grateful.

Dear Colleagues,
Promoted by these measures, China-Africa trade and economic cooperation has ushered in a new development phase in the past three years.

First, our bilateral trade grows at a high speed. China-Africa trade reached USD 163.3 billion in 2011, an increase of 83% on the basis of 2009. From 2009 to 2011, Chinese imports from Africa nearly doubled to USD 93.2 billion. China has been Africa’s largest trading partner for three consecutive years, providing a rich, diversified and broad market for African countries to increase their exports. To increase imports from Africa, we have taken many efforts such as granting tariff exemption, hosting trade shows of African products, setting up exhibition and sales centers for African products and sending buying missions to Africa. A growing number of African feature products are entering the Chinese market and are very much loved by Chinese consumers.

Second, our infrastructure cooperation continues to expand. In the past three years, China provided over USD 10 billion preferential loans and commercial loans to African countries, helping them improve their financing capacity for infrastructure projects. Incentivized by these loans, Chinese financial institutions and companies are actively exploring new financing modes for and expanding the scale of cooperation on infrastructure construction in Africa. In the past three years, Chinese companies carried out a large number of projects in Africa covering areas of transportation, power, telecommunication, housing and water supply, which helped African countries improve their infrastructure conditions, consolidate the foundation for economic and social development and improve African people’s welfare.

Third, our investment cooperation deepens. The stock of Chinese direct investment in Africa grew from USD 9.3 billion in 2009 to USD 14.7 billion in 2011. Over 2,000 Chinese companies have investments in Africa. Our investment cooperation has been expanding from traditional sectors like agriculture, mining and construction to advanced processing of minerals, manufacturing, finance, logistics and real estate. At the same time, African investment in China has also increased steadily in many sectors including oil and petrochemicals, processing and manufacturing, and wholesale and retail. In the past three years, African direct investment in China had an average annual growth of over 10%. By the end of 2011, African direct investment in China had reached USD 12.9 billion, an increase of 30% on the basis of 2009.

It has been proven that China-Africa trade and economic cooperation has promoted our respective economic and social development, and, more importantly, enabled each other rising status and greater influence on the world stage and in the global governing system, thus generating tangible benefits for Chinese and African peoples.

In the coming period, China will work to expand our trade with Africa, further improve trade structure, and increase our imports from Africa with non-resource imports taking up a bigger share. At the same time, China will continue to provide aid to the best of our capabilities to assist African countries’ economic and social development, encourage and support Chinese financial institutions and companies to participate in infrastructure construction in Africa, enhance investment and financing cooperation in sectors such as advanced processing of resources, agriculture, manufacturing, finance, commerce and trade, logistics and aviation, with an aim to achieve better quality and higher level cooperation. The Chinese government will continue to encourage Chinese companies to fulfill their corporate social responsibilities, give greater focus to technology transfer, personnel exchanges and knowledge and experience sharing, integrate their development with the overall development of African countries, and score bigger achievements through common development.

Dear colleagues,
This morning President Hu Jintao announced on behalf of the Chinese government new measures to promote China-Africa cooperation in the next three years. The new measures focus on the theme of development and cooperation as the main way, and identify from five angles the priorities of China-Africa cooperation in the new situation. The new measures not only extend existing measures but also highlight the features of “diversification, innovation, sustainability”. These new measures inject new vitality to the development of FOCAC and the new-type strategic partnership between China and Africa.

As the Chinese minister in charge of trade and economic cooperation, I would like to make the following suggestions on China-Africa trade and economic cooperation based on the new measures
First, we should step up cooperation on investment and financing to help Africa enhance its capacity for sustainable development. Africa has been developing on a fast track in recent years. However it is still troubled with entrenched problems like vulnerable economic foundation, inadequacy in financial resources and single industrial structure. African countries need abundant financial resources to convert its demographic, market and resource advantages into real development forces. They need to develop infrastructure and agriculture to cement the economic and social foundation, to develop manufacturing and SMEs to acquire a stronger capacity for “blood generation”, and to accelerate industrialization and urbanization. China has improved its industrial structure and financial system with greater strength to export capital and technology. Greater cooperation on investment and financing fits the feature of economic complementarity and development stage proximity between China and Africa. It can provide strong forces to drive the sustainable development of African economy, promote the transformation and upgrading of commercial relations between the two sides, and enhance the quality and level of bilateral cooperation.

To this end, China will continue to provide financing support to Africa to help the continent enhance its capacity for sustainable development. The newly offered credit line of USD 20 billion, consisting of preferential loans and commercial loans, is an open model of cooperation. The specific type and size of loans will be determined by project proposals from Africa. The timetable and effects of loan allocation will depend on how closely the two sides work with each other. China will encourage financial institutions to increase special loans to African SMEs and promote investment and financing cooperation between Chinese and African businesses through specialized platforms such as the China-Africa Development Fund.

Second, China will continue to increase aid to Africa to support its efforts in realizing the UN Millennium Development Goals. Development is the top priority of Africa. Its primary tasks are to develop national economies, improve people’s livelihood and eliminate poverty. Against the backdrop of a sluggish global recovery, African countries are confronted with even more challenges in realizing the UN Millennium Development Goals. As a sincere and reliable friend of Africa, China, despite the uphill battle it faces in its own development, will do what it can to increase the size and improve the structure of aid to Africa with a greater focus on livelihood improvement and more direct benefits to the African people.

In the next three years, China will pay greater attention to the continuity and sustainability of its aid projects. It will continue to increase its assistance in traditional sectors such as the promotion and application of agricultural technologies, medical and health care, clean drinking water, and human resources development. In the meantime, China will provide vocational and technical training facilities to Africa, including material supplies, experts and technical cooperation with a particular focus on improving the working skills of local youth and women. China will also help Africa enhance its ability for climate change adaptation by providing automatic weather observation stations and radar stations for upper air observation.

Third, China will engage in Africa’s integration process and support Africa in enhancing its overall capacity for development. In recent years, Africa has made substantial progress in its economic integration, which has not only become a hallmark of Africa’s quest for strength through unity but also a powerful engine for the take-off of the African economy. China appreciates the efforts made by the African Union and other regional bodies towards African integration and stands ready to offer more support to advance this process.

While advancing its partnership with Africa, China will give priority to promoting trade development and interconnectivity within the continent in the next three years. It will help Africa enhance the overall capacity for development so that the continent can be better prepared in fending off risks posed by changing external environment and withstanding the impact of the global economic crisis. China will be actively engaged in the development of cross-border and cross-region infrastructure in Africa. It will assist Africa in project planning, feasibility study and engineer designing of a selected number of key projects which are relatively mature for development, and will encourage capable Chinese financial institutions and companies to take part in the construction. China will also build and renovate customs and commodities inspection facilities for African countries and promote intra-Africa trade facilitation by offering equipment and personnel exchange and training.

Dear Colleagues,
The world has been changing, Africa has been rising and China has been developing. In the past, due to similar historical experience, we shared weal and woes and forged a strong bond of affinity; at present and in the future, our bond has been and will be further reinforced by common development tasks and broad shared interests. We are fully confident about the development prospect of Africa, the relationship between China and Africa and the economic cooperation and trade between us.

Summer carries the promise of spring and bears the fruit for autumn. Taking this conference as a fresh opportunity, let’s join hands to bring China-Africa economic cooperation and trade to a new level. I am confident that with the unremitting efforts of our governments and people, and with the great support from the ministers and friends present here, China and Africa are bound to reap bumper harvest in our economic cooperation and trade.

Thank you.

Big Medium-sized Small

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