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Ethiopian official extends welcome to Chinese businesses

By Chen Yingqun | | Updated: 2014-11-28 16:50

Ethiopia welcomes more Chinese companies to invest in the country, especially in manufacturing, agriculture and services, said Demeke Mekonnen, Ethiopian vice-prime minister, at the China-Ethiopia Business Forum in Beijing this week.

Mekonnen spoke on Tuesday about opportunities his country presents to representatives of Chinese companies keen on expanding to Africa.

He said Ethiopia's GDP has seen double-digit annual growth on average in the past decade, and Ethiopia's products enter the US and European markets duty-free and with no quota restrictions.

China-Ethiopia bilateral trade volume has grown about 20 percent annually for the past decade, and it reached $2.19 billion in 2013. China has been Ethiopia's biggest trade partner, foreign investor and contractor for many years.

Chinese companies are present in almost all of the country's big infrastructure, energy and telecommunications projects. Ethiopia's first expressway, from its capital Addis Ababa to Adama, was built by a Chinese company.

Chinese entrepreneur Lu Qiyuan invested in and built the Eastern Industry Zone, Ethiopia's biggest industrial park. Shoe exports by Chinese manufacturer Huajian Group account for more than half of Ethiopia's total shoe exports. That industry has led to greater development of logistics, leather processing and other sectors in Ethiopia.

Zheng Yuewen, chairman of the China-Africa Business Council, organizer of the forum, said Chinese companies' investments in Africa have accelerated Chinese industrial upgrades while also expanding Africa's development.

Zheng said Ethiopia has good conditions for the development of labor-intensive industries, such as a favorable investment environment, a wealth of available labor and great market potential.

China and Ethiopia should work together to improve the investment environment and train more skilled workers and managers in Ethiopia, Zheng said. Such moves would make Ethiopia an even more important destination for the transfer of sectors of China's manufacturing industry to Africa.

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