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Sino-Africa trade rises 54%
By Jiang Wei (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-11-26 08:51

An official with the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) says that China is willing to establish free trade areas (FTA) with African countries, a move to further promote two-way trade and mutual investment.

Qi Jianwei, a senior official of Department of Western Asian and African Affairs of MOFCOM, told a seminar in Beijing: "China will continue to carry out concrete measures to improve bilateral trade, including setting up FTAs with African countries and regional blocs when the time is ripe."

Initial steps in this regard have already been made as China and the Southern African Customs Union (South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland) announced the launch of FTA negotiations in June.

Sino-African Industrial and Commercial Seminar, as the seminar is called, is sponsored by the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade and is expected to increase exchanges between business communities of both sides.

At the seminar, Chinese officials introduced their African counterparts to doing business in China.

And they also called for the establishment of a united chamber of commerce that would better network enterprises from Africa and China.

Meanwhile, Eleih-Elle Etzan, Cameroon ambassador to China, wants to seek new ways of co-operation in terms of bilateral trade and China's investment in Africa.

Commenting on the trade relations, Qi said the potential would be great as the two economies are complementary to each other.

"Africa enjoys abundant natural resources and a vast market while Chinese products, which are of good quality and low prices, meet the demands of African consumers," he said.

Economic relations between China and Africa have prospered in past years, official data show.

Trade volume between China and Africa rose 53.9 per cent year-on-year to US$20.5 billion in the first nine months of this year.

China's imports from Africa topped US$10.95 billion, reflecting an increase of 78 per cent.

Its exports surged by 33.2 per cent to US$9.59 billion, resulting in a small trade deficit for China.

China mainly exports industrial products, such as machinery and electrical products, high-tech merchandise, and garments to African countries, while it imports natural resources, including crude oil, steel, and cotton, from the continent.

The brisk growth comes as a result of improved trade promotion mechanisms.

China has signed a number of trade and economic co-operation agreements with African countries and regions to facilitate mutual investment and trade flows.

The nation also granted zero tariffs to the least developed African countries.

As for investment, more than 670 Chinese enterprises had been approved to invest in 49 African countries by the end of June this year, with investment totalling US$1.13 billion.

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