China has opened a new trade window with Ethiopia , announcing a series of new measures aimed at bolstering industrial investments and encouraging Chinese firms to set up indust rial parks in the East African nation.
Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming, at the head of his country's delegation t o Ethiopia, said that his country was willing to support and encourage businesse s to invest and set up industrial plants in Ethiopia and invest in sugar developm e nt and other processing industries.
"China is ready to increase its assistance and the loans of preference nature to promote cooperation in transport, power, telecom and help Ethiopia improve the hardware of its economic development," the Chinese Minister said at a ceremony in Ethiopia Monday.
More specifically, the Minister said, China plans to increase the trade volumes with Ethiopia to US$3 billion by 2015.
China's trade with Ethiopia scaled new heights over the last 11 months to stand at a historically high level of US$1.376 billion, 20 times more than the trade levels of the year 2000.
Ethiopia's Finance Minister Sufian Ahmed said the country had received major ben efits from its cooperation with China, including road linkages, which have enabled the rural parts of Ethiopia to enjoy thebenefits of good roads.
"Trade is showing a steady increase in growth. This growth has been achieved on quota free access that China has offered," the Ethiopian Minister said.
The visiting Chinese delegation has announced a major trade expansion programme for at least 30 African countries, still classified as least developed countries.
According to the Chinese Minister, Ethiopia and the other 29 countries would exp ort duty-free to China on an additional 4,000 tariff lines, an expansion over the 400 tariff lines that those countries currently enjoy.
He said although China was a new comer to Africa's Foreign Direct Investment (FD I) inflows, there was a change in the scenario and Chinese firms have started flock to Africa.
Ethiopia has witnessed the influx of Chinese firms into its local economy, the M inister said.
Chinese firms have pumped in some US$900 million worth of investments in Ethiopi a's economy, including steel, paper, glass and other industries.
"Both China and Ethiopia are large farming countries with big population, and sh are similar imbalances in economic development," Minister Deming said. "The two have much to share with one another in developing agriculture and manufacturing, job creation and promoting balanced economic development."
He said China was also ready to increase the transfer of practical technologies through agricultural demonstration and the transfer of agriculture experts. China would also encourage Chinese businesses to participat e in Ethiopia's agro-processing industries.
The measures aimed at boosting bilateral trade with Ethiopia were announced as t he Chinese Minister embarked on a five-nation African tour to popularize China's US$10 billion aid package to Africa, which Beijing ho pes to implement within three years.
Ethiopia became one of the very first African nations to benefit from the China plan of action, in which Beijing has identified eight key sectors that would become part of the country's comprehensive aid package to Afr ica.
The targeted sectors include agriculture, clean energy, health, debt relief and investment expansion across Africa.