Wednesday, February 18, 2009

China's eight-measure economic policy on Africa well implemented, says Chinese minister

LUANDA, Jan. 19 (Xinhua) -- China's eight-measure policy designed to strengthen economic and trade cooperation with Africa has been effectively carried out with remarkable achievements in the past two years, Chinese Minister of Commerce Chen Deming said Monday.

In an exclusive interview with Xinhua, Chen said remarkable achievements have been scored in the two-way economic relations and trade cooperation between China and African since Chinese President Hu Jintao announced the eight-measure African policy at the Beijing Summit of the China-African Cooperation Forum in 2006 in Beijing.

The policy covers China's assistance to Africa, preferential loans and credits, the building of a conference center for the African Union, the canceling of debts, further opening-up of China's markets to Africa, the establishment of trade and economic cooperation zones in Africa, and the training of African professionals.

Since 2007, China has signed bilateral aid accords with 48 African countries and loan agreements with favorable terms with 22African countries, Chen said.

The year 2009 will witness a 200-percent increase in aid accords with African countries in value terms as compared to 2006,the minister said.

Meanwhile, the Chinese government will exempt 168 debts that should be paid by the end of 2005 by 33 African countries, he noted.

To encourage Chinese enterprises to invest in Africa, the Chinese government has established the China-Africa Fund with an initial allocation of 1 billion dollars, Chen said.

By the end of 2008, the China-Africa Fund had invested about 400 million dollars in 20 projects, which brought the total investment in Africa by Chinese enterprises to about 2 billion dollars.

The Chinese side plans to gradually expand the fund to 5 billion dollars, Chen said.

In addition, the construction of economic and trade zones or duty free trade zones in Africa is progressing smoothly, including the Zambia-China Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone, the Guangdong Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone in Nigeria and the Lekky Duty Free Trade Zone in Lagos, Nigeria, the Egypt-Suez Economic and Trade Zone and Ethiopian Orient Industrial Park, the minister said.

The Zambia-China Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone, as China's first trade cooperation zone in Africa, has been initially completed and put into operation, Chen said.

Ten Chinese enterprises with a combined investment of more than700 million dollars have set up plants in the zone located in the Zambian capital of Lusaka, offering some 3,500 jobs for local people, he noted.

Zambian President Rupiah Banda spoke highly of the establishment of the Zambia-China Economic and Trade Zone, as well as China's eight-measure economic policy on Africa. Like the Tanzania-Zambia Railway, the Zambian president said, the zone is a key measure symbolizing the Sino-African friendship in a new era.

To expand imports from the most underdeveloped African countries, China has exempted import tariffs from 31 African countries on farm products, stone materials, minerals, leather and hide, textiles, clothing, electric appliances and machinery and equipment, Chen said.

The African countries have gained a total of 680 million dollars in tariff exemptions during the period from 2006 to October 2008.

China has also cooperated in training African scientists and technical personnel in sectors including agriculture, medical care, social development and education.

Since 2007, China has offered training programs for 10,916 people from 49 African countries. By the end of 2009 China will send 100 advanced-level agrotechnicians to 35 African countries, Chen said.

China plans to establish 14 agricultural technology demonstration centers, all of which will begin construction by the end of this year.

Meanwhile, about half of the hospitals that China pledged to help build in Africa have already finished construction bidding, Chen noted.

The construction of the African Union Conference Center, also a Chinese aid project, began last December and is scheduled to be completed in 2011, he said.

Chen was scheduled to leave Angola for China on Monday, wrapping up a three-nation African trip that also took him to Kenya and Zambia.