China expects to more than triple the trade volume with Africa in five years, Vice Premier Huang Ju said in November 2005. Huang put forward five proposals to pump up co-operation between Africa and China while attending the opening ceremony of a seminar on trade and economic cooperation between Madagascar and China. China will continue to encourage the country’s companies to boost imports from Africa to expand annual trade between Africa and China to US$100 billion from US$30 billion in five years. The government will also prompt more Chinese companies to invest in Africa and expects to double China’s direct investment in Africa in five years.
Since the China-Africa Co-operation Forum was established in 2000, it has been seen as an effective platform for expanding co-operation and increasing friendly relations between China and African countries. The Forum of Sino-African Co-op establishes a mechanism and platform for regular bilateral exchanges. China proposed and held the first Sino-African Forum in 2005, which was an important step for conducting connective dialogue and seeking common development. The annual Forum on China-Africa Co-operation will, in 2006, be elevated to a ministerial summit, China’s ministry of Foreign Affairs has said. The forum is a platform by China and African states for collective consultation, dialogue and a co-operation mechanism between developing countries, which fall in the category of the South-South co-operation. China has pledged unconditional assistance to developing countries, especially in Africa, to help them achieve the desired growth and has accepted to write-off a US$1.2 billion debt owed by several African nations. China has also offered to train at least 10,000 professionals in various fields from different African nations as part of the co-operation.
According to the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, China increased imports from Africa by over 80% in 2004, compared to the previous year. In 2004, the value of goods Africa exported to China reached an all-time high of around US$15 billion, which is US$2 billion more than China’s export to Africa. In 2005 Sino-Africa trade accounted for about 3% of China’s total foreign trade, which rose 35.7% to more than US$1.15 trillion lin 2004.
Under the framework of the China-Africa Cooperation Forum, the Chinese government has set up the African Human Resources Development Fund to help train 10,000 specialized talents from Africa from 2004 to 2006. In 2005 China made good on a preferential tariff arrangement promised to 25 African developing countries at the end of 2003. The arrangement became effective on 1 January 2005 and it covers 190 items including food, textiles, minerals and machinery. China is committed to improving Sino-African trade by establishing free trade areas with African countries and regional blocs.
According to the Africa Department of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, there are seven African countries that still have not established diplomatic relations with China. They are Chad, Malawi, Gambia, Swaziland, Senegal, Burkina Faso, and Sao Tome and Principe. The Press Department and the Africa Department of Ministry of Foreign Affairs are hosting events in Beijing under the theme of “Coming to Africa”.