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Chinese trade delegation explores investment opportunities in East Africa

Chinese and the East African Community (EAC) delegations meeting in Arusha, northern Tanzania, have agreed to promote trade, investment and infrastructure growth, EAC officials said Wednesday.

Chinese Commerce Ministry official Cao Jiachang, who led a group of 30 Chinese business leaders to a meeting with EAC Deputy Secretary-General Jean Claude Nsengiyumva to discuss areas of collaboration, said Beijing valued ties with EAC.

“We want to turn the EAC’s resource strength to industrial strength to increase the currently low trade volumes from EAC to China, accounting for only 3% of trade between China and Africa,” said Cao, who is the Deputy Director General of the Department of African Affairs.

Both sides discussed areas that offer the potential for collaboration between EAC and China including the energy, infrastructure, customs and trade, industrialisation and tourism sectors, an EAC statement said.

EAC’s Director for Infrastructure Philip Wambugu said the meeting was about deepening cooperation between EAC and China and would determine the pace of collaboration between the two.

For his part, Cao expressed China’s interest in supporting initiatives in energy, mining, industrialisation, infrastructure, agriculture, human capacity development and security, among others.

He reiterated China’s readiness to support infrastructure development projects as well the industrialisation of the region.

The leader of the Chinese delegation announced a contribution by China of US$100,000 to support the EAC in developing cooperation programmes with China.

The meeting took place as part of the Framework Agreement on Economy, Trade, Investment and Technical Cooperation signed between the EAC and the Chinese government in November 2011.

China plans to host the second meeting of the Joint Ministerial Committee on Economy, Trade, Investment and Technical Cooperation in Beijing in 2013.

“The delegation was apprised of opportunities for investment and partnership in areas such as ship and ferry building, pharmaceuticals, petro-chemicals, development of ports and development of regional road infrastructure, notably the Arusha-Holili-Voi Road,” the EAC said.

East Africa is emerging as one of the world’s potential oil producing region with new oil and gas discoveries made by exploration firms.

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