China-Africa trade hits record high
Updated: 2010-12-24 11:06
BEIJING - Trade volume between China and Africa hit a record this year, sending out positive signals about economic and trade cooperation, experts said on Thursday.
Bilateral trade to the end of November increased 43.5 percent year-on-year to $114.8 billion, surpassing the pre-crisis level of $106.8 billion for all of 2008, according to a white paper on China-Africa economic and trade cooperation released by the Chinese government.
"China's robust economic activities, and enhanced cooperation between the two regions, have dragged bilateral trade out of the shadows of the global economic crisis," said He Wenping, director of the African studies department of the Institute of West-Asian and African Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
China emerged as Africa's largest trading partner in 2009, outpacing the European Union and the United States.
Trade structures have improved in recent years and markets have opened for each other's products, said the white paper.
According to the white paper, China's exports of machinery and electronic products account for more than half of the overall export volume, while the country's imports of agricultural commodities have increased dramatically over the years.
To boost exports from Africa to China, some products from the least-developed countries in Africa with diplomatic relations with China have been exempt from tariffs since 2005.
By July 2010, the number of tariff-free products had increased to 4,700 taxable items, and is expected to grow to cover 95 percent of China's total taxable items.
In the meantime, China's total direct investment in Africa surged to $9.3 billion by the end of 2009, and the scope of investment has been widened from the mining sector to finance, manufacturing, tourism and agriculture, said the white paper.
"At the same time, modes of investment have become more diversified to include merger and acquisition, equity participation and others," He said.
According to He, trade and investment structures will be further optimized.
By the end of 2009, China had provided assistance for the construction of more than 500 infrastructure projects in Africa.
From 2007 to 2009, the country offered $5 billion in preferential loans and preferential export buyers' credit, and promised another $10 billion of preferential loans from 2010 to 2012.
In education and training, more than 30,000 people in Africa had attended training programs provided by the Chinese government by June, covering more than 20 fields such as economics, agriculture and public administration.
In the meantime, China has been conducting activities to improve people's livelihood in African countries, including improving medical and health conditions, carrying out agricultural cooperation and reducing Africa's debts.
From 2000 to 2009, 312 debts of 35 African countries were cancelled by China, exceeding 18.9 billion yuan ($2.85 billion), according to the white paper.
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