China enhances co-operation with Portuguese-speaking countries

China has strengthened its economic and trade co-operation with Portuguese-Speaking Countries (PSCs) in the past 15 years, and has been dedicated to enhancing its co-operation with those countries in more sectors, senior officials attending a symposium said in Macau Wednesday.

China has strengthened its economic and trade co-operation with Portuguese-Speaking Countries (PSCs) in the past 15 years, and has been dedicated to enhancing its co-operation with those countries in more sectors, senior officials attending a symposium said in Macau Wednesday.

The symposium, which was organized by the Forum for Economic and Trade Co-operation between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries (Macao), also known as Forum Macao, was to mark the 15th anniversary of the founding of the forum.

Forum Macao serves as an important platform between China and the PSCs, as it has helped promote closer ties between the governments of those countries, boost their economic and trade co-operation, and expand their cooperation into more sectors, Secretary-General of the forum Xu Yingzhen said at the opening ceremony.

The total value of merchandise trade between China and PSCs reached 117.588 billion U.S. dollars in 2017, as compared with that of 2002, which was 6.056 billion dollars, according to the data of China’s General Administration of Customs.

The PSCs also sold goods worth 81.008 billion dollars to China in 2017, up by 32.18 percent year-on-year, the data shows.

Meanwhile, China’s direct investment in the PSCs totalled 399 million dollars in 2016, a significant increase of 263.7 percent compared to the previous year.

Forum Macao has far-reaching influence on China’s cooperation with the PSCs, and their economic and trade cooperation maintains sound momentum with the Belt and Road Initiative, said Sun Tong, Director of Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao Affairs of the Ministry of Commerce of China.

China is the largest trading partner of the PSCs, among which Brazil was China’s largest trading partner with total value of bilateral merchandise trade reaching 74.81 billion dollars in 2017, according to the data by China’s Ministry of Commerce.

Among the PSCs, Angola and Brazil are the main destinations for Chinese investment, and China became the largest foreign investor in Mozambique in 2017.

China and the PSCs have also strengthened their high-level visits in the past 15 years. China established a comprehensive strategic partnership with Portugal and Brazil in 2005 and 2012 respectively, and resumed its diplomatic relationship with Sao Tome and Principe in 2016.

In October 2016, during the 5th Ministerial Conference of the Forum for Economic and Trade Cooperation between China and Portuguese-speaking countries in Macao, China announced that it would adopt 18 new measures in the next three years to boost relations between China and the PSCs in such sectors as production capacity, infrastructure, maritime cooperation, cultural exchanges, as well as training.

China also promised to give at least 2 billion yuan in aid to help develop agriculture, facilitate trade and investment, prevent and control malaria, and conduct research on traditional medicine in these countries.

Since 2011, a total of 36 workshops have been held in Macao and more than 900 civil servants and technical staff from some of the PSCs, namely Angola, Brazil, Cabo Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Portugal and Timor-Leste have participated in those workshops.

During the meeting Secretary for Economy and Finance Lionel Leong recalled the first speech of the original signing ceremony that created Forum Macau, in which it was said that the creation of the Forum “opened a new page [for Portuguese-speaking countries’ relations with China].”

Leong said the creation of a forum between China and the Portuguese-speaking countries occupies “a highlight position in the strategy defined by the central government, and allows Macau to enhance its advantages to promote the development and diversification of the economy.”

Leong also noted the ongoing construction of the Service Center Complex as well as the transfer of the Cooperation Fund to Macau. Another important step towards diversification that was directly attributable to Forum Macau’s activities was the central government’s attribution of the Renminbi Clearing Centre to Macau, as noted by the Secretary.

Leong closed his speech with a mention of the “notable” results achieved in trade since the creation of Forum Macau, which he said “have been highlighted and praised by the central government.”

The cooperation between China and the PSCs has achieved fruitful results, and it still has abundant potential to tap, Guinea-Bissau’s ambassador to China Malam Sambu said at the symposium.

Besides economic and trade cooperation, China and PSCs can enhance their cooperation on production capacity, infrastructure, technical transfer and many other sectors, which are beneficial to all, he added.