China launches first trade cooperation zone in Africa

Updated: 2007-02-05 08:58

LUSAKA -- China launched an economic and tradecooperation zone in the Zambian capital of Lusaka on Sunday, the first of its kind established ever by the country in Africa.

Chinese President Hu Jintao and his Zambian counterpart, Levy Patrick Mwanawasa, jointly inaugurated the Zambia-China Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone.

The zone's establishment is part of China's efforts to fulfill its earlier promises to boost its full-fledged cooperation with African nations.

At the Beijing Summit of the Forum of China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) last November, Hu announced eight measures to strengthen China-Africa cooperation, including the establishment of three to five trade and economic cooperation zones in Africa in the next three years.

"The aim of my African tour is to consolidate the traditional friendship between China and Africa, implement the results achieved at the Beijing summit of FOCAC, expand pragmatic cooperation and seek common development," Hu said at the inauguration ceremony.

The Chinese government encourages and supports competent Chinese enterprises to invest in the zone and make contribution to Zambia's economic development and social progress, Hu said.

Mwanawasa pledged to further improve the investment environment and hoped that more Chinese and foreign enterprises will settle in the zone, bringing along with them know how and expertise necessary for the development of the zone and Zambia at large.

The zone, located in Zambia's Copper Belt Province, is aimed at forming a production chain with Chambisi Copper Smelter as the core enterprise.

The construction of the zone is expected to boost the development of Zambia's light industry and the sectors of construction materials, home electrical appliance, pharmacy and food processing, increase the country's exports and create job opportunities for locals.

Hu arrived in Zambia on Saturday on a three-day state visit. Zambia is the fourth leg of Hu's eight-nation African tour, which has taken him to Cameroon, Liberia and Sudan. Hu will also travel to Namibia, South Africa, Mozambique and Seychelles.

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