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China-Africa co-op key to walk out of downturn
Updated: 2009-09-02 21:41

CHANGCHUN: Although Sino-African trade had weakened during the global financial crisis, Chinese and African enterprises could strengthen their collaboration and emerge from the downturn together, Chinese trade officials said at a trade fair Wednesday.

Huang Xiwen, chief of Jilin Province's Commerce bureau, said at the 2009 China Africa Economic and Trade Cooperation Seminar that local enterprises had been vigorously developing business with African companies.

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He said 19 local companies had invested in Africa by the end of July. Their enterprises included building refineries in Algeria and power transmission networks in Ethiopia, Nigeria, Angola, Equatorial Guinea and Congo.

Zhang Weidong, a representative of the Jilin Chemical Engineering and Construction Ltd. Co affiliated to China Petroleum, said Chinese companies were very competitive in Africa.

"Many Chinese workers sent there are key technicians and executives whose salaries are only one fifth of their European and American counterparts," he said. His company has started a natural gas project in Algeria.

Xie Yajing, deputy chief of Department of African Affairs of the Commerce Ministry, identified three catalysts for ongoing Sino-African collaboration.

"First, Chinese products are very competitive in price and mainly focus on daily necessities where demand is rigid and has not been so easily hurt by the economic slowdown," she said.

Second, she said, a number of insolvent African companies had reached out to Chinese enterprises for survival finance during the present economic climate.

Third, there was huge potential for China to export labor services to Africa as a combined result of a recovering African economy and preferential treatment granted by the Chinese government on labor service collaboration.

The seminar is part of the Northeast Asia Economic and Trade Cooperation Summit which will last until Sunday.