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China, ECOWAS seek to deepen trade ties as forum opens

( Date: 2012-3-21 15:57:33 )

by Justice Lee Adoboe

ACCRA, March 20 (Xinhua) -- The second China-Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Economic and Trade Forum opened here on Tuesday with an objective of enhancing trade and economic ties between China and the West African economic community.

In his message to the forum, Ghanaian Vice President John Dramani Mahama said that it was an expression of the determination of the ECOWAS leaders to strive for the promotion of integration through sustainable economic growth and strategic partnership with China.

The forum between China and ECOWAS countries has been institutionalized ever since the first one held in Beijing and Wuhan in September 2008 with a Memorandum of Understanding to provide the framework for regular consultations on the promotion of direct investment and trade between ECOWAS member states and China.

Economic ties between China and ECOWAS have been increasing, culminating in the signing of various funding agreements between China and many member states of the West African regional group.

During his visit to China in 2010, Ghanaian President John Evans Atta Mills and his Chinese counterpart President Hu Jintao signed agreements, paving the way for the China Development Bank to support infrastructure development in Ghana with a loan of 3 billion U.S. dollars.

The two-day forum opened with the specific objectives of hinging economic partnership between China and ECOWAS on maximizing foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows from China into ECOWAS countries.

It is also aimed at attracting long-term concessionary funds for the development of greenfield public infrastructure and promoting ECOWAS-China trade and by extension of intra-ECOWAS trade.

Another objective of the forum is to enable ECOWAS financial institutions such as the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (EBID), Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI), commercial banks and insurance companies as well as investment institutions to extend their global reach by re-positioning them in the chain of resource mobilization from China.

Mahama called on the private sector in the sub-region to play a pivotal role in advancing business-to-business relationships with their Chinese counterparts, acknowledging the critical roles of government as demonstrated by the various stimuli, incentives and interventions in many countries.

"However, in the long run, sustainability will only be achieved through the growth and expanded output of the private sector in all countries," he stated.While China-Ghana bilateral trade exceeded 1.6 billion U.S. dollars in 2009, this figure grew to a record of 2 billion U.S. dollars in 2010, or 15 times over that of 2000.

Official figures showed that Ghanaian exports to China also rose by 74 percent and 55 percent respectively in 2009 and 2010, reducing the trade imbalances between the two countries. Meanwhile, China's trade investment in Ghana's economy in the first three quarters of last year alone totaled 2.5 billion dollars.

The Vice Chairman of China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT), Yu Ping, said at the opening ceremony that he had very strong feelings for friendship and cooperation for the two sides.

"There is enormous potential for continuous development for friendship and cooperation between our two sides. In the Chinese business community, the interest is very strong," Yu said.

He disclosed that the CCPIT network receives enquiries regularly from people seeking to know how to do business in Africa and how to go about doing trade and investing in African countries.

"We feel that we have the responsibility to provide timely, accurate and required professional services to both the Chinese and African peoples," he added.

President of the ECOWAS Commission Kadre Desire Ouedraogo underscored the need for further strengthening and deepening of relations between China and ECOWAS in the face of positive developments after the 2008 forum.

"ECOWAS is ready and prepared to work with China in the context of the community's Vision 2020 so that, together, we can take our relations to the next appreciable level that will be sustained with more actions and mutual benefits," Ouedraogo added.

Editor: Yamei Wang 

From: www.xinhuanet.com

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