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China, Africa trade to = $100bn by 2010
The contracts were part of ambitious plans unveiled by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, on the first day of the China-Africa summit, for the two sides to double their trade to $100bn in four years.
The 16 contracts covered co-operation in natural resources, infrastructure, finance, technology, textiles and communications, said Wan Jifei, chairman of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade.
The deals, with 10 African countries, came at the end of a trade conference attended by 1 500 Chinese and African businessmen that was held alongside the two-day summit of national leaders.
"This conference of Chinese and African entrepreneurs has brought substantial results," Wan said.
By far the biggest deal was one worth $938mn for China's state-owned CITIC conglomerate to set up an aluminium plant in Egypt, according to a copy of the agreement given to reporters.
Chinese firms also clinched a $300mn deal to renovate a highway in Nigeria, signed a contract to build a telephone line in Ghana at a cost of $30mn and agreed to set up a $60mn textile business in Sudan.
A new copper project worth $200mn in Zambia was also announced, along with plans to build a $55mn cement factory in Cape Verde and a mining contract worth $230mn with South Africa.
There were no deals announced in the oil or gas sectors, which were among the most significant spheres of economic co-operation linking China and Africa.
However, by the start of this year, China already had investments in 27 major oil and gas projects in 14 African countries, according to official Chinese figures, and in recent months has taken further stakes in nations such as Kenya, Angola and Nigeria.
The two-day summit brought together leaders from China and 48 African nations and was described by Beijing as its biggest and most important international gathering since the founding of the communist regime in 1949.
Chinese President Hu Jintao told the opening of the summit Beijing would double aid and offer $5bn in loans and credits to Africa by 2009.
"China will forever be a good friend, good partner and good brother of Africa," Hu said in a speech at the Great Hall of the People.
Hu said China would provide $3bn of preferential loans and $2bn of preferential buyer's credit loans to Africa.
Beijing would also cancel more debt owed by poor African countries, he added, without giving specifics.
Hu also pledged China would further open up its market to Africa by increasing the number of tariff-free products from the continent from 190 to 440, and establish up to five trade and economic co-operation zones there.
Trade between China and Africa in 2005 amounted to $39.7bn - nearly a tenfold increase from 1995 - and was likely to reach $50bn this year, according to Chinese officials.
Premier Wen said China intended to more than double its bilateral trade
with Africa to $100bn by 2010. Sapa-AFP
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