Chinese Premier Li Keqiang delivers a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the 5th Ministerial Conference of the Forum for Economic and Trade Cooperation between China and Portuguese-speaking countries, in Macao, south China, Oct. 11, 2016. (Photo: Xinhua/Ju Peng)
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang announced on Tuesday that China has put forward 18 new measures, including offering aid and preferential loans, to boost relations with Portuguese-speaking countries (PSCs) in the next three years.[Special coverage]
China will offer aid and preferential loans worth at least 4 billion yuan (almost 600 million U.S. dollars) to PSCs in Asia and Africa, Li said.
He made the announcement at the opening ceremony of the 5th Ministerial Conference of the Forum for Economic and Trade Cooperation between China and Portuguese-speaking countries in Macao.
At least 2 billion yuan in aid will be given to help develop agriculture, facilitate trade and investment, prevent and control malaria, and conduct research on traditional medicine in these countries.
At least 2 billion yuan in preferential loans will be offered to promote industrial production capacity cooperation and infrastructure development in these countries. In addition, China will cancel 500 million yuan of debt matured from its interest-free loans to the underdeveloped PSCs in Asia and Africa attending the forum.
China also pledged to send more medical teams, offer training programs and government scholarships, and help PSCs from the forum that need to build marine meteorological facilities to respond to disasters and climate change.
China encourages domestic businesses to establish new or upgrade existing economic and trade cooperation zones in PSCs, and it supports the establishment of a China-PSCs financial service platform, an entrepreneurs' association, cultural exchange center, bilingual talent training base and youth innovation and startup center in Macao, according to the package.
The Forum for Economic and Trade Cooperation between China and PSCs was launched in Macao in 2003 with the participation of seven PSCs, namely Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau, Mozambique, Portugal and Timor-Leste.
CLOSER CHINA-PSC TIES
China is willing to build more substantial economic and trade ties and develop long-term stable and sound partnerships with PSCs, the Chinese premier said.
China and PSCs account for 17 percent of the global economy and 22 percent of the world population, and their common interests and need for mutual support are increasing, said Li.
The Belt and Road Initiative accords with the development plans of many PSCs, Li said, noting that both China and PSCs are located along the major international shipping routes.
Bilateral relations between China and PSCs are at their best period in history, said Li, pointing to the fact that trade between the two sides amounted to almost 100 billion U.S. dollars last year.
Over the next five years, China's total imports are expected to reach 8 trillion U.S. dollars, with total outbound investment of 720 billion dollars and more than 600 million in outbound travel, meaning huge business opportunities for companies from all countries, including PSCs, said Li.
The two-day ministerial conference in Macao was attended by leaders and senior officials of the seven PSCs. The forum and Macao will play a more important role in boosting closer cooperation between China and PSCs.
A complex for the China-PSCs cooperation platform will be built in Macao to provide services in trade talks, trade shows and cultural exhibitions and exchanges. The facility is set to become a new landmark for bilateral cooperation.
Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa said Macao has the potential to become an information-sharing platform for business cooperation and bilingual talent, a logistics center for commodities from PSCs and a service center for small and medium-sized enterprises.
China's Belt and Road Initiative can strengthen economic ties with PSCs and Portugal is willing to participate in building the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, Costa said.
Mozambican Prime Minister Carlos Agostinho do Rosario said much progress has been made in human resources development, technological assistance and investment within the forum framework.