Li Keqiang

Trade with Africa will double by 2020, Li Keqiang tells Ethiopia conference

Visiting premier predicts volume will rise to US$400 billion by 2020

PUBLISHED : Monday, 05 May, 2014, 11:09pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 06 May, 2014, 12:33pm

Trade volume with Africa will double by 2020, Premier Li Keqiang told the African Union at the start of his week-long visit to the continent.

Chinese direct investment was also expected to quadruple to US$100 billion within that time, Li said in a speech delivered at the union's Chinese-built headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

But the deeper economic partnership should broaden beyond its current focus, he said.

China will never pursue a colonial path like some countries did
Premier Li Keqiang

"The collaboration must not be limited to energy and infrastructure but expanded to industrialisation, urbanisation, the modernisation of agriculture, with more attention given to green, low-carbon development and environmental protection," Li said.

Sixty deals are expected to be signed during Li's visit, which also includes stops in Nigeria, Angola and Kenya. His wife, Cheng Hong , is accompanying him on the trip.

Watch: AU welcomes China's premier Li Keqiang

China has become Africa's biggest economic partner, and Li predicted trade volume would reach US$400 billion, up from US$200 billion last year, by 2020.

China wanted to become "actively involved" in the continent's economic advancement and would seek to promote the development of its textile, home electronics and manufacturing industries. But it would also consider projects in telecoms, aviation and other forms of travel.

"The Chinese government proposes to establish joint venture airlines between Chinese companies and Africa and providing civilian aircrafts to develop the regional aviation industry. We will also set up a high-speed railway research and development centre," Li said.

Before he departed for his visit, the premier addressed fears that Beijing was becoming a neocolonial power in Africa. "China will never pursue a colonial path like some countries did or allow colonialism, which belonged to the past, to reappear in Africa," Li said on Sunday.

Some Chinese companies have been accused of shoddy construction and failing to respect employment laws. But Shu Yunguo, a professor at Shanghai Normal University's Centre of African Studies, said: "Products in China have quality issues as well, and many companies fail to recognise the importance of environmental protection."