China open to free trade agreements with Africa

19 January 2006

Johannesburg, South Africa, 19 Jan – China says it may open up its market to products from underdeveloped African countries, and at a later date is open to the possibility of creating a free trade area with countries or organizations from the African continent, an official document shows.

In the strategic document, “China’s Policy for Africa,” made public by the Chinese embassy in South Africa, the Chinese government says it is committed to, “easing the access of African goods to the Chinese market and offer customs tax exemption on some goods from less developed countries.”

According to the document these policies aim to, “expand and balance bilateral trade and optimize trade structure.”

As well as promoting the creation of a Chinese-African Chamber of Commerce, the document adds that, “China is available to negotiate a free trade agreement with African countries and regional African organizations, when conditions have been created.”

China also says it continues to be committed to providing preferential loans and export credit and says it is, “ready to explore new channels and new ways of promoting investment cooperation in African countries.”

To this end, China aims to continue negotiating reciprocal protection agreements for investments and to prevent double taxation and implementing them whenever they have been finalized.

In agriculture, China focuses on cooperation in developing land, plantations, cultivation technologies, food safety, industrial machinery and the processing of agricultural products.

“China will intensify its cooperation in agricultural technology, organize practical training courses and undertake experimental and demonstrational projects for technological agriculture in Africa, as well as speeding up the creation of the China-Africa Agricultural Cooperation Program,” the document says.

The document also launches the idea of giving some African countries “Approved Destination Status” for receiving Chinese tourists, should the countries wish it.

China also undertakes to make efforts to reduce the debt burden on African countries, provide economic support and multilateral cooperation, particularly by intervening on Africa’s behalf with international institutions. (macauhub)