China-Africa cooperation to boost mutual development | 2014-May-8 09:01 | Editor: Wang Yamei

China and African countries will make concerted efforts to upgrade their economic cooperation, which will strengthen economic ties and shore up mutual development, as well as bring vitality to the mild global recovery.

Industry, finance, poverty reduction, ecological protection, cultural exchange and peace and security were highlighted during Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's ongoing visit to Africa.

More support for investment, loans, infrastructure construction and other financial aid were packaged into the renewed cooperative resolution.

Huo Jianguo, director of the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, said the two sides have maintained stable ties for years, with rapid economic growth even amid the headwinds from the widespread financial crisis.

In 2013, trade between the two sides reached 210.3 billion U.S. dollars, while the volume was just 250 million in 1965, with China staying as the continent's largest trade partner for five consecutive years.

China had directly invested over 25 billion U.S. dollars in Africa by the end of last year. More than 2,500 enterprises are doing business on the continent in multiple sectors.

"Economic and trade cooperation play a key role of supporting the deepening relation between China and Africa," Liu Hongwu of the Institute of African Studies at Zhejiang Normal University said. Joint projects in Africa have driven local economies, created jobs and pushed forward industrialization.

China's Minister of Commerce Gao Hucheng expects a closer, inclusive and sustainable trade relationship prompted by the visit.

His hope is shared with Zhou Yongsheng, professor at China Foreign Affairs University, who said China-Africa cooperation has shown signs of upgrading, as the two sides were increasingly supplementary to each other.

Africa, with one billion people and over two trillion U.S. dollars in combined GDP, saw its economy growing by more than five percent annually over the past ten years. Of all the ten most rapidly developing economies in the world, six came from Africa.

In Huo's opinion, upgraded China-Africa cooperation will include investment in joint ventures and financial aid, in an orderly and sustainable manner that benefits both sides.

The next stage of bilateral trade, beyond mere exchange of commodities and raw materials, will help Africa to improve their processing and manufacturing sector, thus eliminating their reliance on raw material exports, Huo said.

Chinese enterprises could build more industrial zones with local counterparts, covering sectors of home appliances, textiles, clothing and daily necessity, to meet local demand and nurture production capability there.

The upgraded cooperation, while beneficial to Africa, is consistent with China's domestic economic reform.

Liu Guijin, director of China-Africa International Business School under Zhejiang Normal University, said the cooperation allows China to transfer quality but excess industrial capacity to Africa and step up domestic reform.

In addition, the two side's financial cooperation, while meeting Africa's capital demand, is also boon to the internalization of China's currency the yuan, he said.

China has vowed to increase loans for African countries by 10 billion U.S. dollars, bringing the total pledged amount to 30 billion U.S. dollars.

Huo expects China-Africa trade to maintain double-digit growth in coming years. China has urged the two sides to strive to bring the bilateral trade volume to 400 billion U.S. dollars by 2020.