Shanghai - Premier Wen Jiabao defended China's expanding trade and
investment in Africa to help countries to grow at the briskest pace in 30
truly sincere in helping Africa speed up economic and social development for the
benefit of the African people and its nations," Wen told the opening session of
the African Development Bank's annual meeting.
The two-day gathering, attended by finance ministers and central bank
governors from more than 50 countries, is the bank's first meeting in Asia, and
the second time outside Africa.
Wen recalled a pledge given by President
Hu Jintao at a summit with African heads of state in Beijing in November to
double aid by 2009 and to set up a US$5 billion development fund.
"We will fully deliver on our statement and we are working with African
countries to implement these measures," Wen said.
China had also cancelled 10.9 billion yuan (US$1.42 billion) of African debt
and announced additional relief of 10 billion yuan, the premier added.
Wen also urged to explore new ways of cooperation and upgrade current
cooperation to bring about mutual benefit.
Governments should provide
more guidance for businesses, he said.
Wen called for better project
evaluation and higher efficiency of investment and loans, urging Chinese
companies to attach a priority to projects that deliver public benefits.
These included infrastructure such as roads and ports, healthcare and beefing
up Africa's technical capacity.
"Africa has made real progress in rejuvenating itself. On the other hand,
many arduous tasks still face Africa," he said.
To sustain Africa's development, Western countries had to make good on
successive promises to step up aid and open their markets to African products.
"We call on the international community and the developed countries in
particular to deliver on pledged aid to Africa, cancel debt and enhance trade,"
Themed "African and Asia: Partners in Development", the two-day meetings will
focus on infrastructure development in Africa, regional integrity and poverty
Around 2,000 people attended the opening ceremony, including
Rwandan President Paul Kagame, President of Cape Verde Pedro Pires, and
President of Madagascar Marc Ravalomanana.
Zhou Xiaochuan, governor of
the People's Bank of China, the central bank, and Donald Kaberuka, president of
African Development Bank, also attended the opening ceremony.
inception, the African Development Bank has made a lot of achievements in
poverty reduction, development and African integration," Zhou said.
confident that this annual meetings will become a fresh starting point for all
parties to intensify cooperation and promote development in both Asia and
Africa," Zhou said.
"Africa is better poised for economic prosperity and
better governance than it has been for decades," said Kaberuka, the ADB
president, who forecast economic growth of Africa at above 6.5 percent in 2007.
Kaberuka called for sustained development of the African economy, which
currently has "serious cause for concern" including lack of progress in part of
the continent, vulnerable and low-based economy and relatively faster-growing
Founded in 1964, the ADB has 77 members from Africa,
America, Europe and Asia. China became its member in 1985.
China to tackle trade surplus
Premier Wen Jiabao pledged that China would further reform its currency
controls and take steps to resolve problems ranging from the nation's growing
trade surplus to its soaring foreign exchange reserves.
China's overall economic outlook was positive, he said, and promised that
Beijing would make interest rates more flexible while using all available
options to control growth of its money supply and ensure economic stability.
"There are some problems. We face excessive liquidity, an imbalance in the
balance of payments, and rapid accumulation of foreign exchange. But we are
taking measures to deal with these issues," Wen said.
"We are fully confident and capable of resolving the problems and maintaining
sustained, stable and sound growth of the financial sector," he said.
Wen reiterated Beijing's vow to let markets play a greater role in setting
the yuan's value.
"We are deepening reform of the foreign exchange management system to improve
the mechanism of setting the (yuan) exchange rate and give greater scope to the
role of the market and introduce greater interest rate flexibility," Wen said,
without giving details.
Beijing has adamantly defended its currency policies in the run-up to a
meeting of top Chinese and U.S. trade officials next week in Washington.
On Tuesday, a senior Chinese finance ministry official warned that pressuring
Beijing to speed up currency flexibility will "backfire."
China ended a decade-old direct link between the yuan and the U.S. dollar in
July 2005, and revalued the currency by 2.1 percent. Since then, the yuan has
been allowed to rise by 5.3 percent against the dollar in tightly controlled
Despite criticism from the U.S. in particular, Chinese officials contend that
reforms are moving as quickly as the developing economy and financial system
will allow. They are gradually relaxing controls on interest rates as part of
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Commerce reported Wednesday that China's foreign
direct investment rose 10 percent in January-April over a year earlier, to
US$20.4 billion (euro15 billion).
China, one of 24 non-African shareholders in the African Development Bank, is
hosting the bank's meeting for the first time, in a symbol of its growing
economic ties with the resource-rich continent.
An estimated 700-800 Chinese companies are active in Africa, sending two-way
trade soaring to US$55.5 billion last year, four times its 2000 level, according
to the bank. Beijing says it wants to that figure to rise to US$100 billion by