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Nigeria signs finance deals in Beijing

Updated: 2013-07-11 01:08
By Li Xiaokun ( China Daily)

President brings team of ministers to improve ties

China on Wednesday signed major financial agreements with Nigeria to give the most populous African nation a leg up in its rapid development.

The agreements were signed after a meeting between President Xi Jinping and visiting Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

One of the two financial agreements was on comprehensive financial cooperation to support Nigeria's economic development. The other was a preferential loan to help build four airport terminals in Nigeria.

The Associated Press reported that Nigeria was expected to get $1.1 billion in low-interest loans for much-needed infrastructure projects, including airports, roads and hydroelectric plants.

Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala told AP that the loans for infrastructure are part of a $3 billion loan from China at interest rates of less than 3 percent.

Nigeria has benefited from low-interest loans that China has granted to African countries over the past years, including $500 million to build airport terminals in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Kano, more than $700 million to build a hydroelectric plant in Niger State, and $600 million for a light railway in the capital Abuja, Nigerian authorities have said.

Jonathan was accompanied by 19 of his top government officials on the four-day state visit starting on Tuesday, as he attempts to boost trade ties between Asia's economic locomotive and Africa's biggest oil producer.

A statement released by the Nigerian presidency on the eve of the visit said the team includes ministers from a variety of ministries.

"(China) has a very robust economy and that is why when I was coming, I came with quite an amount of cabinet ministers and very senior government functionaries," Jonathan told Xi at the start of their meeting.

The presidents vowed to push forward bilateral cooperation in many areas, from infrastructure construction and energy to agriculture and defense.

Niu Xinchun, president of the Institute of American Studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said the large delegation Jonathan brought with him reflects the great importance Nigeria attaches to China.

Nigeria is a good market for China's industrial overcapacity, said Niu. "China's transfer of industrial know-how to Nigeria will improve China's own industrial structure," he added.

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