Africa, China talk business
GOVERNMENT| July 19, 2012, 10:07 a.m.
Government Ministers from 50 African countries have gathered in China for high-level talks on cooperation between China and Africa.
The 5th Ministerial Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) conference is now underway in Beijing, where trade, investment and strategic partnerships are in the spotlight.
FOCAC is described as “a platform for collective dialogue and an effective mechanism for practical cooperation between China and African countries.” This year’s event is expected to to chart the course for China-Africa cooperation in various fields in the three years from 2013-2015.
Tanzanian Foreign Minister Bernard Membe, in Beijing for the forum, noted that most African countries depend greatly on Chinese loans and grants for their development, while Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo said Africa intends to take advantage of China's support.
According to Chen Deming, China's Commerce Minister, China-Africa trade hit a record high of USD166.3 billion in 2011. He stated that China's investment in Africa reached USD14.7 billion by the end of 2011, with over 2,000 Chinese businesses located in the region.
In the lead-up to the forum, which opened today, China’s Vice Foreign Minister Zhai Jun said at the Forum on China-Africa Financial Cooperation hosted by the Export-Import Bank of China last week that the Ministerial Conference is of great significance for the continuation and further development of China-Africa relations, and has received high attention from both sides.
He noted that past few years had been the most robust period for China-Africa high-level exchanges.
“The development of China-Africa relations in recent years is not the development of relations with just one, two or a few African countries. Rather, it has been the comprehensive development of our relations with all friendly African countries.”
He noted that since 2006, China's grant assistance, interest-free loans and preferential loans to Africa have increased steadily. It has trained more than 30,000 professionals in various sectors for Africa and offers 5,000-plus government scholarships annually. For three consecutive years since 2009, China has remained Africa's largest trading partner.
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