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Gao Hucheng: Endeavoring Together for a New Chapter of Economic and Trade Cooperation Between China and Kenya


On May 10, Mr. Gao Hucheng, the Minister of Commerce of PRC briefed on the economic and trade cooperation between China and Kenya during the media interview as follows:

In 2013, President Xi Jinping put forward a cooperation concept of “truthfulness, solidness, closeness and honesty” during his visit in Africa, injecting a new times connotation for the new strategic partnership between China and Africa. Kenya is the final station of Premier Li Keqiang’s visit in Africa. The economic and trade contact between China and Kenya is of long standing. Zheng He, a seafarer in Ming Dynasty of China, arrived at Malindi and Mombasa of Kenya as early as the 15th century and brought China’s ceramics and silk in exchange for Kenya’s timber and perfumes. This kind of “barter trade” initiated the cooperation between China and Kenya. 600 years later, China has become the second largest economy in the world, and Kenya has become the engine for the development of East Africa economy. In the wake of the increase of respective national power, the economic and trade cooperation between the two countries also maintains a vigorous development trend and has yielded fruitful results.

In terms of trade, the trade volume between China and Kenya was as high as USD3.27 billion in 2013, a historic high. China has become the second largest trade partner of Kenya. Through bilateral trade, featured commodities that the people of Kenya are proud of, such as fresh flowers, tee, mastic and so on, have entered into the broad market of China more and more, providing more diversified options for the export of these commodities. In the meantime, more and better Chinese commodities have procured the favor of Kenyan consumers and satisfied their exuberant and diversified consuming demands.

In terms of investment, China has successively been the largest foreign investment country of Kenya since 2011. As the year of 2013 is the general election year of Kenya, many countries take a wait-and-see attitude towards the investment in Kenya while the direct investment from China has reached USD120 million, increased by 52.5%. China has shown confidence in the economic development of Kenya with practical actions. Over the years, nearly 90 Chinese companies have invested and developed business in Kenya, supported the development of Kenya’s traditional competitive industries such as tourism, logistics, etc., and filled up the blanks in industries such as digital television, cement, etc., which have effectively promoted the diversified economic development of Kenya and increased the local taxation and employment.

In terms of project contracting, Kenya has become an important project contacting market of China in East Africa. By the end of 2013, Chinese companies finished a project contracting value of USD 7.13 billion in Kenya, covering fields like highway, power, port and so on. The annual contracting scale in the last three years has exceeded USD1.5 billion. China, while effectively reducing the construction cost of the relevant projects and helping Kenya to take the lead in the region in terms of the infrastructure, has sufficiently demonstrated our strengths in fund, equipment and technology.

In terms of development aid, China has, under the framework of China-Africa Cooperation Forum, constructed a large number of civil and infrastructure projects for Kenya such as sports center, highway, hospital, primary school, etc. and trained over 2,000 persons of all kinds. These aids, as focusing on the improvement of people’s livelihood and the enhancement of independent development capability, are in match with the development demands of Kenya, display the sincere affection of the government and people of China to the government and people of Kenya, and are also appreciated by Kenya for the absence of additional political conditions and quick implementation.

In terms of service cooperation, more and more Chinese tourists have seen the magnificent scene of the great migrations of animals in Masai Mara National Reserve and the lovely scenes of Mount Kenya in person; the Nairobi-Guangzhou air line of Kenya Airways has maintained a good seat occupancy rate since its initiation; due to the outstanding position of Nairobi as the regional financial center, many financial institutions of China have set up branches at Nairobi and established good cooperative relations with financial institutions in Kenya and other parts of Africa.

After the beginning of the second decade of the 21st century, both China and Kenya have maintained a fast economic growth rate with promising development prospect. China has adequate funds and matured technologies and equipment, and the strength for "going-out" increases day by day; Kenya has remarkable regional strengths, exuberant market demands and determined resolution for development. Both countries face the development tasks of adjusting the economic structure and transforming the growth pattern, and have urgent cooperation demands in fields such as power, railway, aviation, energy, new energy, etc. – the potential of cooperation is tremendous. The progressing of the integration of East African Community has also opened new spaces for the two countries in the construction of cross-border infrastructure, the operation of regional airlines, etc. In this context, the economic and trade cooperation between China and Kenya is facing more and larger development opportunities. China is willing to grasp the breakthrough point of mutual benefit and win-win result together with Kenya to promote the upgrading of the economic and trade cooperation.

Firstly, continue to expand the cooperative investment between China and Kenya. Chinese companies are encouraged to further expand investment in Kenya and guide the investment towards fields such as petroleum, geotherm, electricity power, agriculture, etc. in close combination with the 2030 long-range plan and the contents of the 2nd five-year plan of Kenya. Focus on the construction and development of economic zones of Kenya, transfer the industrial chains with comparative strengths from China to Kenya and create more employment opportunities for Kenya. Give full play to the platform functions of China-African Development Fund, CDB Special Loan for the Development of African SMEs to inject capital towards local business entities of Kenya and enhance their market competitiveness.

Secondly, enrich the cooperation connotation in infrastructure. Chinese companies are supported to continue participating in the construction of infrastructure projects of Kenya to promote the cooperation from simply construction towards preliminary design and later operation and development so as to extend the cooperation chain. Taking Mombasa-Nairobi Railway as the artery, expand the cooperation on Mombasa Port, highways and electricity projects along the line, etc. to form linkage and support among the projects. Continue to provide financing support for infrastructure projects that are beneficial to the long-term development of Kenya, and use the project revenues as the main source of repayment to reduce the debt burden of the government of Kenya and promote the sustainable economic development of Kenya.

Thirdly, promote the cooperation and development of regional aviation. Premier Li Keqiang announced on behalf of the government of China, the China-Africa Regional Aviation Cooperation Plan during his visit in the head office of the African Union. Kenya, as the aviation hub of East Africa and even the entire Africa, boasts of distinguished advantages in airline operation, special service and other aspects. China will support professional enterprises and financial institutions to discuss and cooperate with Kenya in aspects such as establishing airways, operation of branch airlines, construction of airports and the relevant supporting facilities and training of human resources in light of the market principle to further enhance the strength of Kenya in the aviation industry and provide convenience for people in Kenya and other regions.

Fourthly, focus on the cooperation in the fields of people’s livelihood and environmental protection. China will, within its capacity, continue providing development aids to Kenya, giving priority to the people’s livelihood fields such as agriculture, education, hygiene and potable water and provide more support in aspects such as human resources, vocational education and others to help Kenya to grasp the practical technologies and continuously improve its independent development capability. China is also willing to support Kenya in the protection of wild animals, including the provision of required equipment and materials and the enhancement of technical cooperation and experience sharing so as to maintain the sustainable development of precious wild animal resources.

There is a saying in Kenya, “Sticks fastened together are unbreakable”, vividly describing the precious value of cooperation. The same development tasks and complementary development advantages have closely aligned China with Kenya. Deepening the economic cooperation and promoting the common development meet the respective development requirements and are to the long-term benefits of both sides. China will endeavor, in concerts with Kenya, to write a new chapter for the economic and trade cooperation between the two countries and produce more well-being for the people of the two countries.

Translated by Huang Lin

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