Chinese Premier Li Keqiang Urges Further Ethiopian Ties

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang

VENTURES AFRICA – The Chinese government is in support of Chinese companies getting more actively involved in investment cooperation with Ethiopia in a wide range of sectors from infrastructure to manufacturing, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said on Thursday.

According to him, China’s aid to Africa has never been “conditional”, while Africa has long been a reliable and good friend and partner for China, and bilateral cooperation has progressed well during recent years, Li said during his meeting in Beijing with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.

Hailemariam is on a five-day official visit to China.

While emphasizing the two economies are highly “complementary” to each other and there is huge potential for the two countries to enhance cooperation, Li said China is willing to join hands with Ethiopia to take bilateral cooperation to a “higher level”.

The Chinese government “supports capable companies to invest in Ethiopia in infrastructure, industrial zones, energy and resources, manufacturing and agriculture,” he said.

China is also “willing to enhance cultural exchanges with Ethiopia, deepening cooperation in education, culture and tourism”, Li said.

China is a major investor in Ethiopia, with reports saying more than 400 Chinese companies have set up businesses there, but there is still huge room for growth, experts said. China has a special economic zone in Ethiopia.

Huajian, a leading Chinese shoe maker and exporter which opened its first factory in Ethiopia last year near the capital, Addis Ababa, said recently it would increase its investment in Ethiopia in the next decade.

The Guangdong-based original equipment manufacturer plans to partner with China Africa Development Fund to set up an industrial chain in the African country with cumulative investment expected to reach $2 billion in the next 10 years.

Senior Ethiopian officials said in late May that the country will sign agreements with China’s ZTE and Huawei Technologies in the next few weeks to expand its mobile phone infrastructure and double subscribers to 40 million.

Li said, as developing countries, both China and Ethiopia are both committed to developing their own domestic economies and improving their people’s livelihood.

The Ethiopian ambassador to China, Seyoum Mesfin told China Daily in a recent interview that the country welcomes Chinese manufacturers to take on a larger presence and open more factories.

Li called on the African nation to “continue to provide preferential policies, improving the business environment”.

Hailemariam said “Ethiopia is willing to deepen the pragmatic cooperation with China in a wide range of sectors, encouraging Chinese companies to invest in Ethiopia and willing to protect interests of Chinese companies.

“Ethiopia is a long-term and reliable partner for China, and we much appreciate the efforts that China has made in issues including helping Ethiopia train quantitative talents,” he said.

President Desalegn became the head of Ethiopia in August last year after the death of the country’s former Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi.