Monday, November 03, 2008

Chinafrica (21) Watching for PRC Influence in Africa

China prepares to increase special cooperation zones in Africa to ten

[ 2008-11-03 ] MacauHub


Beijing, China, 3 Nov – China is preparing to double from five to ten the number of special cooperation zones to be set up in Africa, according to the director of African Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, quoting diplomatic sources.


“The number of special economic zones in Africa could reach 10, according to what a high ranking Chinese diplomat with responsibility for the African continent told me recently,” He Wenping told Macauhub, during a conference in Lisbon on relations between China and African countries.
If Beijing’s confirms this, she puts Cape Verde at the top of the list to receive one of these zones, which Chinese president Hu Jintao promised to establish in Africa by 2010.


In November 2006 in Beijing, at the summit of heads of state and leaders of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, Hu promised that in the three years following five economic cooperation zones in Africa would be established, to strengthen what he called “the Sino-African partnership.”


“Given the positive response to the idea from African governments, China is seriously considering increasing the number of zones, as there were more than five countries interested,” said He Wenping.


In February 2006 China created the first special cooperation zone in Chambishi in the iron ore exploration area of Zambia. Chinese authorities then announced a second on the Mauritius Islands off the West African coast, and most observers expect the third to be in the Tanzanian capital, Dar es Salaam.


In the running for the two remaining areas are Cape Verde, Nigeria, Liberia and Egypt, hoping for the growth in their respective economies that one of these zones would bring, that China calls economic and commercial “lungs” spread across the African continent and linked via roads, railways and sea routes.


“The Chinese objective is to share our experience of development with African countries and help them, with an economic growth pattern which includes exporting goods and products that China needs,” said He Wenping, who compared trade relations between China and African countries to the relationship that used to exist between the Chinese economy and the USA.
“The most important factor for Africa's development is the opportunities of the Chinese market, just as those the American market provided for China. This is the future for African development,” she said.


At the end of 2007, the Chinese ambassador in Cape Verde said that there was a strong possibility that the island of S.Vicente would host a special cooperation zone, given the quality of Cape Verdean infrastructures.


The Zambian project, where Beijing has promised an investment of US$ 800 million is seen as the blueprint for future special zones. Through tax exemption, the aim is to attract Chinese companies to these areas, which would help to develop light industries, trade and services, thus creating new jobs in Chambishi.


Beijing has promised an investment of around US$500 million to the Mauritius Islands, as well as the creation of 7,500 jobs and export revenue of over US$200 million a year. (macauhub) Copyright © 2005 MacauHub


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