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Strong China-Africa cooperation pays

Updated: 2013-04-12 10:09
By Li Xiaokun ( China Daily)

 Strong China-Africa cooperation pays

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde chatting with Zambia's President Michael Chilufya Sata at the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference in Boao, Hainan province, on April 7. Liao Pan / China News Service

Economic Summit told how Japanese and 'Asian Tiger' development periods can be repeated in Africa

Cooperation between China and Africa is stronger than ever, with China planning to beef up investment in Africa, and more Chinese companies planning a move to the continent, top economists and former officials have said.

"Now is the best period for Asia, especially China, to cooperate with Africa. There will be a surge of cooperation in not only quantity but also quality," said Wei Jianguo, former vice-minister of commerce and current secretary-general of the think tank China Center for International Economic Exchange Center.

He made the remarks on April 7 at a discussion focusing on the rise of Africa at the Boao Forum for Asia annual economic conference in Hainan province, South China. The event attracted renowned economists and leaders from Africa.

"China will increase investment in Africa, although our investment in Africa so far has reached $20 billion," Wei said.

He quoted President Xi Jinping's remark on that day at the forum that in the next five years China would invest $500 billion and import about $10 trillion in goods.

Xi also said that over the same period the number of overseas visits made by Chinese people could exceed 400 million.

In 2012, about 60,000 Chinese nationals visited Kenya, Wei said, suggesting the huge boom China may bring to African tourism.

In the past decade, trade between China and Africa rose by a year-on-year average of 22 percent and reached $200 billion in 2012, he said.

"Growing at such a speed, I believe Africa will replace the European Union to become China's largest trading partner."

To facilitate the cooperation, Wei suggested China train more professionals for Africa. Beijing has already trained more than 60,000 people from Africa.

He also talked about the possibility of China setting up a free trade area with Africa.

Justin Yifu Lin, former World Bank chief economist, said the trend of Chinese manufacturers moving abroad will bring opportunities for Africa.

"In the 1960s when Japan rose, the Japanese moved labor-intensive industries to the four Asian 'tigers' and helped them realize industrialization," Lin said, referring to Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea and Singapore, economies that grew rapidly at that time.

In the 1980s, the "tigers" repeated the process and moved industries to the Chinese mainland. Now it is Beijing's turn, Lin said.

Japan moved 8.7 million jobs abroad, while the four tigers transferred about 7 million in total. For the Chinese mainland, the figure could be 80 million, he said.

"China will offer many jobs in Africa to facilitate Africa's rapid transition to becoming an industrialized continent. The process might be completed in two to three decades."

Too much labor in Africa revolves around the agriculture industry, he said. The transfer of Chinese manufacturing to Africa will increase efficiency and enable local people to earn more and turn their income into capital for further growth, Lin said, adding that it will be a sustainable model.

"With close cooperation between Asia and Africa, I believe Africa can be as successful as Asia."

He said now it is the time to set an encouraging example in Africa, like the role of Japan in Asia in the 1960s.

"In the 1950s and 60s, it was said that Asia was a hopeless continent. But the whole of Asia was triggered by Japan's rise. The success of the four Asian tigers in the 1980s also gave a strong impetus to the region.

"If we can have such a model in Africa, it will lead African countries to follow and be equally successful in the next few decades."

Zambian President Michael Chilufya Sata said that Africa is expecting more trade, investment and jobs from Asia.

This will inject great vitality into the local economy, he said, adding that it will raise Africa's capability and fulfill the spirit of South-South cooperation.

Abdelkader Bensalah, president of the Council of the Nation of Algeria, said the wide participation of African nations at the forum reflects the importance they attach to Asia's experience in development and integration.

He said that Africa was not hit hard by the global financial crisis but nevertheless has structural problems blocking growth, such as poor infrastructure, basic economic structure, limited local markets and lack of innovation.

"We need Africa and its partners to concentrate on and solve problems," he said. "Here I want to especially mention Asia, which has widely recognized experience and technology."

Algerian Foreign Minister Mourad Medelci held his country to be a good example of Africa benefiting from cooperation with Asia.

Since its independence, Algeria has adopted an open policy toward China and other Asian nations, which resulted in many experts and projects coming to the country in the 1960s, he said.

"That process led to an industrial leap in Algeria," said the minister.

"Now we clearly see (the effect of) our experience at that time," Medelci said.

He said his country attracted a large amount of investment from major Asian countries, including China, Japan and India, and used it to build many large projects, which greatly benefited local economic and social development.

"We are very satisfied with that," he said, adding there are many projects in Algeria awaiting investment from Asia.

"Cooperation should not be limited to a bilateral way, such as just between Algeria and China or Japan. We should build up a collective cooperation mechanism, involving three sides, four sides and even more."

To achieve a balanced improvement in development across Africa, Medelci called for Asian countries to send experts to assess major African projects.


(China Daily 04/12/2013 page3)

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