CHINA / National
China to increase imports from Africa(Agencies/chinadaily.com.cn)
Updated: 2007-02-07 21:42
Hu spoke in South Africa on the sixth stop of an eight-nation tour of the continent. "China takes seriously the concerns about the imbalance in the structure in China-Africa trade," Hu said in an address at the University of Pretoria, promising "effective steps to address those concerns."
On Tuesday, Hu signed agreements on economic and technical cooperation and inaugurated a Web site to foster commercial ties.
China is an old friend of the African National Congress party of President Thabo Mbeki, which it supported while South Africa was under a racist white regime. It provided arms and military training for guerrilla fighters, university scholarships and diplomatic support in the international arena.
When South Africa achieved majority rule a decade ago, the new government soon became China's biggest trade partner in Africa.
Trade between China and South Africa, the continent's economic powerhouse and a major gold producer, reached US$240 million in the first 11 months of 2006, an increase of 34.5 percent over the previous year.
Chinese Ambassador Liu Guijin said this week that China was ready to fund programs that would help create jobs, including in training, capacity building and agricultural development.
Accountant student Alvin Kee, whose parents emigrated to South Africa from Hong Kong, said "I can see China being good for Africa. People think they are coming just for our resources, but they also are coming for development and increasing trade."
Hu already has visited Cameroon, Liberia, Sudan, Zambia and Namibia and leaves Wednesday for Mozambique before heading to the Seychelles. His trip has focused on boosting trade ties and ensuring aid pledges made at last year's China-Africa summit are realized, including reducing debt, increasing aid and cutting import tariffs.
Mbeki said Tuesday that Hu's visit - his second to South Africa - "emphasizes the determination on both sides to develop relations."
"China is one of our most critical, most important economic partners globally," Mbeki said.