China, Africa to embark on new journey of economic and trade cooperation
China and Africa have worked together to implement the ten-major cooperation plans as scheduled since the Johannesburg Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) held three years ago, which has broadened and deepened bilateral economic and trade cooperation and brought tangible benefits to the two peoples, said a senior Chinese official.
Chinese Minister of Commerce Zhong Shan wrote so in a signed article published on People's Daily on Friday (August 31), days ahead of the two-day 2018 FOCAC Beijing Summit to be kicked off on Sept. 3.
The trade structure between China and Africa had been further optimized, Zhong said, elaborating that two-way trade since 2016 has totaled at more than $400 billion, making China the largest trading partner of Africa for nine consecutive years.
Under the framework of the ten cooperation plans, China launched over 150 aiding projects on the promotion of African trade and extended the range of China-Africa trade from daily necessities, energy and mineral products to high value-added products and agricultural specialties, he added.
Investment cooperation had grown increasingly diverse, with equipment manufacturing, finance, medicine and science and technology rising as new fronts, said the minister, explaining that China's direct investment in Africa had accumulated to more than $8 billion since 2016, making Africa a major emerging destination for Chinese investors.
Zhong added that China established and upgraded a number of economic and trade cooperation zones in Africa, and private enterprises were now swirling as new investment drives.
Lauding the steady progress yielded from major projects, the minister said Africa had remained the second largest overseas engineering market of China as many contracts worth $200 billion had been inked by Chinese companies in Africa ever since 2016.
China also has aided the building of five transportation colleges and universities, as part of its efforts to improve Africa's infrastructure conditions and optimize its capability for sustainable growth, according to Zhong.
China has assisted Africa, a key area for China's foreign aid, in hundreds of projects to reduce poverty and improve the people's livelihood since 2016, Zhong stressed, citing the project to provide satellite television access to 10,000 villages across Africa.
Other programs also included the project on poverty alleviation named "Happy Life", as well as the agricultural projects to benefit 100 African villages, the minister illustrated, concluding that assistance programs had seen notable effects.
China and Africa had been deepening their mutually beneficial and win-win cooperation, Zhong wrote.
With the implementation of the ten cooperation plans, China's products, technologies, services and standards had been spread to Africa in a faster speed since 2016, while the Africa-made goods had also better met the diversified demands of Chinese consumers, he expounded.
Zhong added that Chinese companies raised their ability in internationalized operation, and China's currency, the RMB, also accelerated its internationalization pace in Africa.
The Beijing summit, according to Zhong, will map out new measures on China-Africa pragmatic collaboration in the coming three years or a longer period and push bilateral economic and trade cooperation to a higher level.
China would boost its trade with Africa, expand imports from Africa, optimize trade structure, support Africa's efforts to improve trade facilitation, and bolster bilateral cooperation in e-commerce and other fields, Zhong expounded on the future plan.
China would host the first China International Import Expo (CIIE) in November this year, during which Africa was welcomed to take the chance to export more distinctive products to China, the minister pointed out, adding that so far 43 countries and more than 190 companies from Africa had confirmed their participation.
China would encourage more competitive and well-reputed enterprises to invest more in Africa, and build industrial clusters in light industry, textiles, building materials, home appliances and automobiles taking use of the economic and trade cooperation zones based on comparative advantages of African countries in resources, so as to added economic dynamic and accelerate industrialization drive of African countries, he pledged.
China would support its enterprises to play an active part in construction of railways, highways, ports, electricity, telecommunications and other infrastructures in Africa based on the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA), an initiative meant to bridge Africa's infrastructure deficit, Zhong promised.
He added that the country would also, together with Africa, deepen cooperation in both upstream and downstream chains such as planning, design, construction, operation and maintenance, explore new methods of how to integrate investment, construction and operation, and find new ways of cooperation between government and social capitals, so as to boost bilateral cooperation in infrastructure construction.
China would continue to push for cooperation with Africa in human resources development, train more personnel skilled at vocational technologies and management for the African side and encourage Chinese companies to transfer mature and applicable technologies through investment and financing, in a bid to help African countries turn the demographic dividend into the engine for growth, Zhong said at last.
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