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Qian Keming Attends the Press Conference on New Economic and Trade Initiatives of the Johannesburg Summit of the FOCAC

On December 5, the Vice Minister of the Ministry of Commerce, Qian Keming attended the press conference on new economic and trade initiatives of the Johannesburg Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (the “FOCAC”) and took the reporters’ questions. The main content is as follows:

Qian Keming: Good morning, everyone. It is a great pleasure to attend the press conference today. First of all, on behalf of the Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China and the Minister Gao Hucheng, I would like to extend our warm welcome and sincere appreciation to friends from the media for your long-standing concern and support to FOCAC and economic and trade ties between China and Africa.

As one of the major economic sectors in China, the Ministry of Commerce play a vital role in the foreign trade and economic cooperation including foreign trade, development and assistance, international economic cooperation, economic and trade negotiation both bilaterally and multilaterally and so on. Being an institution leading the follow-up action committee of FOCAC on Chinese side, the Ministry of Commerce assumes the primary responsibility to take the lead in designing and implementing the initiatives in China-Africa practical cooperation.

Practical measures always enjoy a high priority in FOCAC. These measures embody the sincere, equal and real characteristics in China-Africa cooperation and remain to attract attentions from all walks of life at home and abroad. Since the establishment of FOCAC in 2000, China has carried out a series of practical measures in each forum, among which, the economic and trade initiatives occupied a large proportion. Up to the Fifth Ministerial Conference in 2012, we have released about 30 economic and trade initiatives, gradually covering major sectors in China-Africa cooperation and eventually benefiting all the African countries. For instance, under the framework of FOCAC, China declared a loan amounting to USD 35 billion to Africa so as to assist the construction of more than 400 programs in African countries, exempted 31 least developed African countries, which established foreign ties with China from tariff of 97% of products exported to China, created USD 5 billion as the China-Africa development fund and USD 1 billion as preferential loans for small and medium-sized enterprises, supported enterprises to build more than 20 economic and trade cooperation zones in Africa, sextupled the scale of assistance to Africa by building more than 400 facilities such as demonstration centers of agricultural technology, schools, and hospitals to improve people's livelihood, dispatching nearly 20,000 agricultural experts and medical workers to Africa, offering 55,000 scholarship opportunities in China, and having trained 83,000 talents from various professions.

With joint efforts of China and Africa, the initiatives mentioned above have been fully implemented, promoting the past 15 years of China-Africa economic and trade cooperation to a new high. In 2014, the trade volume between China and Africa reached USD 222 billion, 21 times of that in 2000, thus China has become the first major trading partner of Africa for six consecutive years. China’s stock of investment in Africa has exceeded USD 30 billion, over 60 times of that in 2000. As the scale of China-Africa economic and trade cooperation is expanding, the cooperation domains and structure are being diversified and upgraded as well. With an average annual growth of 37% in China’s direct investment to Africa, domains of industry, finance, tourism, telecommunications, aviation, and broadcast television have become the highlights in China-Africa economic and trade cooperation. An increasing number of Chinese enterprises embrace African market and endeavor to make greater contribution to Africa’s development.

This ongoing Johannesburg Summit of the FOCAC is the second summit between China and Africa, but it convenes in Africa for the first time and has the historic significance of inheriting the past and ushering in the future in China-Africa relationship. At the opening ceremony of the summit yesterday, Chinese president Xi Jinping declared on behalf of Chinese government that in the new era China will support the development in Africa and consolidate our initiatives of China-Africa practical cooperation, mainly, 10 Major China-Africa Cooperation Plans, which were highly appreciated and warmly embraced by numerous African countries and even the international community. We convene the press conference today aiming at offering a general interpretation on the initiatives President Xi issued yesterday, especially those with respect to economic and trade cooperation. We would like to provide an immediate explanation on our plans and concerns as references for African friends and friends who concern about, care for and stand for China-Africa relationship and China-Africa economic and trade cooperation.

The design for the initiatives in this session undergoes nearly one year. During this year, we conformed to President Xi’s idea of developing relations with Africa with sincerity, real results, affinity and good faith and acted on a more balanced approach to upholding principles and pursuing interests. Moreover, we have solicited, through various channels and from all aspects, the opinions and suggestions from government departments, experts and scholars, business circles, folks, think tanks and media friends of both sides of China and Africa. These initiatives are the fruits of close communication, and the quintessence of ingenuity and effort. We hope that these initiatives could embody the features of new era, meet the demands of both sides of China and Africa, correspond to the trend of China-Africa economic and trade cooperation, and accord to the theme of "Africa-China Progressing Together: Win-Win Cooperation for Common Development".

Compared with previous initiatives, the new ones have distinctive features as follows:

First, bridging the development strategies between China and Africa. China is giving great impetus to construction of “the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road (the “Belt and Road”)”, integrating international productivity with equipment manufacturing while most African countries are propelling their industrialization, modernization and urbanization. In other words, the development strategies of China and Africa overlap with each other with increasing shared demands and benefits, thus China-Africa cooperation embraces new development opportunities. After careful study, we appeal and link up major strategic plans with Africa. For example, to design the major development domains for the upcoming ten years corresponding to the Seven Visions and Priorities in Agenda 2063 so as to embody the China-Africa cooperation idea of Mutual Participation and Mutual Implementation in initiatives.

Second, expanding coverage in domains of China-Africa cooperation. China issued a package of cooperative plans, having realized the comprehensive coverage in major domains in China-Africa cooperation and benefiting all African countries. We have strengthened our support to African countries, as well as training to African staff and technology transfer in order to enhance African countries’ capabilities in independence and sustainable development. Apart from this, we have improved the fundamental condition through industrialization and cooperation on infrastructure facilitates. Moreover, having considered the development demand of African countries, we have made arrangements in trade and investment facilitation to seek development in this domain. What worth mentioning is that with the hope of alleviating poverty and improving livelihood, these initiatives have cared for people’s livelihood and happiness in African countries and we have reinforced cooperation in domains such as agriculture, sustained development, poverty reduction and public health.

Third, innovating on the basis of inheriting. Infrastructure facilitates, agriculture and humanities have long being traditional domains in China-Africa cooperation. We shall pursue larger scale and stronger domains so as to lay a solid foundation for China-Africa cooperation. Besides, in consideration of new theme and new trend, we have added contents such as informationization, tourism, climate change, wildlife conservation and sustainable development. Moreover, we have integrated corresponding measures into different centralized plans. On one hand, it can highlight the systematic and integrated features of cooperation. On the other, it indicates the future direction of cooperation and leaves room for further development.
Yesterday, the President Xi Jinping announced the implementation of 10 major cooperation plans in the fields of China-Africa concerns, which is mostly related to economic and trade cooperation.

First, the China-Africa cooperation plan of industrialization. Industrialization cooperation in China-Africa economic and trade cooperation is an important area for future development, and the two sides had done enough preparation to carry out this cooperation. China hopes for starting this plan from core aspects of upstream and downstream in industrial development, for promoting the industrialization of China-Africa cooperation in the chain development and for providing equipped conditions and a driving force to the Africa industrialization.

Second, the China-Africa cooperation plan of modern agriculture. On the basis of traditional agricultural cooperation, China hopes to build a comprehensive industrial chain of China-Africa agricultural cooperation with the African side, to promote the level of agricultural development in Africa, to benefit more people in Africa and to make further contribution to the localization of food production in Africa as well as the food security.

Third, the China-Africa cooperation plan of infrastructure construction. Infrastructure cooperation, one of the China-Africa traditional cooperation areas, is an important area with great scale and high level in China-Africa economic and trade cooperation. Through the implementation of a number of key projects, China hopes to strengthen cooperation in infrastructure planning, design, construction, maintenance and all-round cooperation in the field of management and to better assist Africa to improve infrastructure conditions and the business environment.

Fourth, the China-Africa cooperation plan of green development. Since Africa has entered a path of rapid development, China, in combination of own experiences, hopes that African countries can focus on the long-term development instead of going the route of “to develop first and treat later”. China would like to increase cooperation with Africa in the field of environmental protection and support Africa to achieve green and sustainable development.

Fifth, the China-Africa cooperation plan of investment and trade facilitation. Through this program, China hopes to better participate in the process of economic integration of Africa, to support African countries to improve trade structures, to expand the export of non-resource products, to raise the level of trade and investment facilitation and to create new growth points of trade and investment. It is generally believed that this project can provide more effective support for Africa to construct the intra-domain Free Trade Zone (FTZ).

Sixth, the China-Africa cooperation plan of poverty reduction and people's welfare. Combining many elements of this plan with the series of initiatives announced by the President Xi on the UN summit in September, through the FOCAC, China hopes to benefit African countries immediately by the series of initiatives announced by the President Xi on the UN summit.

Seventh, the China-Africa cooperation plan of public health. China would like to start from the root, approach to improve the level of China-Africa cooperation in the field of public health comprehensively, support Africa to curb infectious diseases such as Ebola and tropical diseases, to significantly reduce the incidence of non-communicable diseases and to further enhance the average life expectancy.

Eighth, the China-Africa cooperation plan of people-to-people exchanges. China focuses on the long-term and sustainable development of the China-Africa relationship, and China will continue to manage more communications in China-African culture, youth, academia, journalism and people. Among them, China would like to build five African cultural centers in order to better assist Africa in protecting their own brilliant civilization and inheriting their own colorful culture; provide Africa in-service personnel with 2,000 academic degree education quotas, provide African youth with 20,000 government scholarship opportunities and through the South-South Cooperation and Development Institute, equip a number of people with high-level skills in government management for African, which is good for developing countries. All these are designed to support African countries to further improve the talents reservation for their construction and to better achieve independent development.
Meanwhile, to support the implementation of 10 major cooperation plans, the President Xi announced yesterday that China would provide financial support, totaling USD 60 billion. This financial support includes funds of three aspects: firstly, the financial assistance for the development, consisting of USD 5 billion free aid and interest-free loan, in order to help African countries in the development of fields such as poverty reduction, health, agriculture and ecological protection and help improve Africa people's livelihood and welfares; secondly, USD 35 billion in preferential loans and export credit, which focuses on supporting African countries to construct some large projects, help African countries improve infrastructure and create more social and economic benefits. In this USD 35 billion loan, China will further increase the preferential degree of concessional loans through a variety of ways and after fully considering the actual situation of some African countries and specific projects, China will also flexibly combine interest rate, term and other lending conditions for making concessional loans become more favorable; and thirdly, financing and investing funds of commerce nature, including another round of replenishment of USD 5 billion for the China-Africa Development Fund and USD 5 billion of special loans to small and medium enterprises development in Africa. After increasing the capital, the China-Africa Development Fund will reach to USD 10 billion and the Africa special loans to small and medium enterprises development will reach to USD 6 billion, and they will support China-Africa cooperation in capacity, investment, trade and other fields, and also play a greater role in promoting the industrialization of Africa.
Vice Commerce Minister Qian Keming’s Remarks:South Africa Cape Argus: Currently, African countries are dedicated to propelling their industrialization. The China-Africa cooperation plan of industrialization in China’s Initiatives fits in well with the needs of Africa. Here is my question: What does the “plan” specifically refer to and how will China help Africa accelerate its industrialization?

Qian Keming: Just as you mentioned, the China-Africa cooperation plan of industrialization meets the needs of Africa in its economic transformation development. The Agenda 2063 of African Union (AU) explicitly declares that by the year 2063, the total value of African manufacturing industry will account for over 50% of its GDP, employing over 50% of the newly emerging labor force. The AU also underlines that Africa is required to upgrade the additional value of commodity one step further, develop science-and-technology-oriented manufacturing industry, improve the skill level of labor force, and facilitate the development of small and micro businesses, thus achieving industrialization and economic growth in Africa; the pillar role of industrialization in Free Trade Zone (FTZ) construction was stressed in the blueprint released when the three largest FTZs in Africa came into being; many African countries including South Africa and Ethiopia regard the industrialization as one of their main tasks in the course of economic diversification. All these will avail Africa to fully exploit the comparative advantages including labor force, resources, and markets, realizing prosperity and invigoration as a result.

Years of development arms China with an independent and integrated industrial system, which is complete in range, the output of over 200 industrial products ranking first in the world. China is taking proactive steps to ensure international capacity cooperation. China’s superior capacities in steel-making, non-ferrous metallurgy, construction materials, rail transit facilities, electricity, chemical engineering, auto-making, light industry and textile industry accord well with the needs of African industrialization process. Africa, meanwhile, has strong intentions and objective conditions to advance those capacities in cooperation with China. China-Africa cooperation on industrialization plays an important role in China-Africa economic and trade cooperation both currently and for a time in the future, fully embodying the demonstrativeness and foresight of cooperation, which is also our original intention and purpose to jointly design and implement the China-Africa cooperation plan of industrialization with Africa.

Covering almost every core aspects of upstream and downstream in industrial development, from building intangible infrastructure to constructing tangible facilities, the China-Africa cooperation plan of industrialization focuses on a complete range of specific domains as follows:

The first is to accomplish top-level design. China will provide intellectual support on planning, policy, and management for the industrialization development of Africa, sharing China’s successful practice with African countries by assigning superior experts and consultants to those African countries.

The second is to create cooperation platform. Based on the market operation in African countries, China will jointly choose a number of economic and trade cooperation zones including industrial parks with those countries to continuously support their efforts on developing industrial parks. Through multiple financing modes, China will help them construct infrastructure and public service facilities inside and outside the industrial parks, shaping the economic and trade cooperation zones into a demonstrative platform in Africa for China-Africa industrial agglomeration and capacity cooperation, thus establishing sound conditions to attract considerable investors for African industrialization.

The third is to cultivate senior management and technology talents, who are the key to industrialization and the core of upgrading independent development capacity in Africa. For the next three years, China will focus on industrialization, and provide training and researching opportunities in China for 40 thousand Africans, young people and women in particular, thus arming Africa with more technology and management personnel.

The fourth is to undertake basic vocational training. China will set up several local vocational education training centers in Africa jointly with African countries by integrating government and enterprise strength. With various approaches including technological assistance and distance education, China will provide efficient and sustainable basic vocational training for African labor force, promoting Africa to transform enormous demographic dividend into genuine development advantages.
I believe that the implementation of the China-Africa cooperation plan of industrialization will motivate China and other countries to participate in the construction of African industrialization, expanding China’s investment in Africa and helping establish sound conditions to attract considerable investors for African countries, which will contribute to the improvement of industrial development conditions and advancement of the industrialization process.

A reporter from China News Agency: Livelihood development in Africa has always been the most fundamental demand and the basic point of China-Africa cooperation. At this conference, what initiative has been put forward in improving people's livelihood? And what is the main content?

Qian Keming: Mutual support and mutual assistance are the essence of traditional China-Africa cooperation. Over the years, China has offered to assist and support African development as much as she can, while African countries have also provided support to China though they are not wealthy in their own cases. For example, African countries donated more than RMB 60 million to China in 2008 when Wenchuan, China was attacked by an earthquake, which impresses Chinese people a lot. China is now developing faster and better than in the past and is willing to further enhance its support for Africa's development, which not only has embodied the China-Africa community of destiny, but also has manifested international morality and justice and responsibility of China as a big nation. You may have noticed, out of the 10 Major Cooperation Plans in this summit, there are four domains specifically focusing on the development of people's livelihood, namely the China-Africa cooperation plan of modern agriculture, the China-Africa cooperation plan of green development, the China-Africa cooperation plan of poverty reduction and people's welfare and the China-Africa cooperation plan of public health. This fully shows the sincerity and intensity of China in improving the people's livelihood in Africa, and sharing the development fruits with African people.

In the process of designing the above cooperation plans with African countries, our primary aim is to assist all African countries to find their own suitable cooperative way and domain, and to effectively benefit them on the basis of their own development plans.

As for the China-Africa cooperation plan of modern agriculture, China hopes to build a comprehensive industrial chain of China-Africa agricultural cooperation, and to promote the level of agricultural development in Africa. Thus, China will focus on cooperation in six domains. The first is to implement the agricultural enriching projects. Experts will be sent to reside on tour in 100 rural areas in Africa, teach technology and provide service in order to promote the docking between local farmers and market, improve their skills and increase their incomes. The second is to enhance agricultural development capability. 30 groups of experts armed with agricultural technology will be sent to Africa to carry out various forms of cooperation in agricultural development capacity, and train local agriculture talents. The third is to conduct scientific cooperation in agriculture. 10 agricultural research institutions will be chose in each side to establish “10 + 10" counterpart cooperation mechanism. Relying on platforms like aid for non-agricultural technology demonstration center, the cooperation mechanism will support African countries in agricultural science and technology innovation, and carry out research exchanges and cooperation in seed breeding and animal epidemic prevention and control. The fourth is to overcome difficulties with African countries and provide humanitarian food assistance to them to help cope with drought disaster.

Concerning the China-Africa cooperation plan of green development, China will support Africa to explore low-carbon and sustainable development path. Among which, 50 projects of clean energy and wildlife protection will be implemented, mainly to cooperate with African side in disaster prevention and mitigation, wildlife protection demonstration, environmental management, weather monitoring, clean energy and other aspects. Moreover, another 50 projects of environment-friendly agriculture and intelligent urban construction will be conducted, mainly to help African side carry out environment-friendly agricultural cooperation projects like agricultural research and development, cultivation, production, storage and processing, as well as those cooperation projects beneficial to achieve urban low-carbon environment such as low-carbon urban planning, transportation, construction, smart electric grid and big data.

In terms of the China-Africa cooperation plan of poverty reduction and people's welfare, China will exempt intergovernmental interest-free loans which shall be paid by the end of 2015 from the least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and Small Inland Developing States to support Africa’s struggle for poverty reduction. The plan also includes the Happy Life Project and poverty reduction cooperation project mainly beneficial to women and children, primarily to assist Africa to improve the environment and living conditions of rural communities. Furthermore, medical expert groups and volunteers on tour will be dispatched to provide medical services for African women and children, so that more African teenagers can access to more high-quality education.

In the China-Africa cooperation plan of public health, China was wondering to support Africa to enhance the level of public health prevention and self-development on the point of fighting the epidemic Ebola. This plan is also rich in content, and I mainly want to emphasize here that China is willing to respond positively to the demands of Africa, be actively involved in the preparatory work in African CDC and provide the necessary support, including infrastructure construction, as well as supporting for information systems, technical equipment protection, laboratory cooperation, personnel training, scholarships and so on.

A reporter from Cameroon African Media Group: 10 Major Cooperation Plans announced by President Xi Jinping just now excites us a lot. Then Minister Qian, how can Chinese and African private enterprises get opportunities to participate in China-Africa economic and trade cooperation, and in the implementation of 10 Major Cooperation Plans?
Qian Keming: Chinese and African private enterprises have become a significant power in China-Africa economic and trade cooperation. President Xi Jinping announced yesterday that China would fund a total of USD 60 billion to support the implementation of 10 Major Cooperation Plans which cannot exclude the participation of private enterprises in both sides. China lays no restrictions on private enterprises’ carrying out full-range bilateral economic and trade cooperation. Though the qualification is required concerning enterprises’ participation in some major cooperation projects in large infrastructure, private enterprises in both sides have never been excluded from the participation. As far as I know, private enterprises have undertaken the construction projects of the wind energy project in Ethiopia, as well as the stadium project in Malawi. I believe that the 10 Major Cooperation Plans declared by President Xi Jinping at this summit will undoubtedly promote China-Africa economic and trade cooperation to a higher level, and benefit all enterprises and people in both sides, not only increasing people’s income and employment, but also winning more opportunities for the enterprises to expand larger market.

The 10 Major Cooperation Plans announced by President Xi Jinping will be not only of benefit to the development of Chinese private enterprises to invest in Africa, but also conducive to the overall development of African private enterprises. Chinese government is willing to make joint efforts with African governments, to build all-round cooperation platform for enterprises in both sides and promote wider and deeper development of bilateral business cooperation. In this summit, Chinese Ministry of Commerce has hosted China-Africa Entrepreneurs Conference and Equipment Manufacturing Industry Exhibition. More than 700 entrepreneurs from China and Africa attended and exchanged their opinions at the China-Africa Entrepreneurs Conference, and signed 22 cooperation agreements with investment amounting to over USD 13 billion. Besides, more than 60 Chinese and African enterprises showed their own advantages and distinguishing products in the Equipment Manufacturing Industry Exhibition, which well demonstrates our support for deepening the cooperation between enterprises in both sides. I believe that, with the implementation of 10 Major Cooperation Plans and financial support of USD 60 billion, the development of cooperation will be broadened greatly for Chinese and African enterprises, private enterprises included.

Translated by Hou Zuowei
Proofread by Eddiea

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