East African Community Secretariat, Arusha, 31 October 2012: The East African Community and the People’s Republic of China today held discussions on partnerships to promote trade, investment and infrastructure development during a meeting at the EAC headquarters in Arusha.
Mr. Cao Jiachang, Deputy Director General of the Department of West Asian and African Affairs of China’s Ministry of Commerce led a 30-member delegation comprising government officials and Chinese entrepreneurs to the meeting with the EAC, whose delegation was led by the Deputy Secretary General in charge of Finance and Administration Mr. Jean Claude Nsengiyumva.
The two parties deliberated on a number of areas that offer the potential for collaboration between EAC and China including the energy, infrastructure, customs and trade, industrialization and tourism sectors. Also discussed was the potential for building partnerships in the gender and youth segment, political affairs as well as developing the resources of Lake Victoria and its basin.
EAC’s Director for Infrastructure Mr. Philip Wambugu said the meeting was about deepening cooperation between EAC and China and would determine the pace of collaboration between the two. He said the bloc valued China’s role in the development of the Partner States, noting that this was why China had been invited as a presenter at the EAC Summit Retreat on Infrastructure due in late November this year.
The Director briefed the delegation that included representatives from several reputable Chinese firms about the progress registered in the integration process so far, while the delegation was also apprised of opportunities for investment and partnership in areas such as ship and ferry building, pharmaceuticals, petro-chemicals, development of ports and development of regional road infrastructure, notably the Arusha-Holili-Voi Road.
Similarly, EAC highlighted potential for partnership with China in the areas of energy, customs and trade, development of markets, tourism, as well as countering terrorism and other crime through support towards the establishment of forensic and counter-terrorism centres in the region.
Mr. Cao Jiachang, the head of the Chinese delegation, on his part welcomed the talks and affirmed that China attaches great importance to its relationship with the EAC. Mr. Jiachang expressed China’s interest in supporting initiatives in energy, mining, industrialization, infrastructure, agriculture, human capacity development and security, among others.
He reiterated China’s readiness to support infrastructure development projects as well the industrialization of the region, saying, “We want to turn the EAC’s resource strength to industrial strength to increase the currently low trade volumes from EAC to China accounting for only 3% of trade between China and Africa”.
Mr. Jiachang added that China was open to scaling up trade with EAC and in that vein extended an invitation for a business delegation from the EAC Partner States as well as holding an EAC-China investment forum in the near future. He announced a contribution of another grant contribution by China of US$ 100,000 for this year to support the EAC in developing cooperation programmes with China.
He proposed that the second meeting of the Joint Ministerial Committee on Economy, Trade, Investment and Technical Cooperation planned for Beijing in 2013 be held towards the end of the second or the beginning of the third quarter of next year.
Closing the meeting, EAC’s Deputy Secretary General in charge of Finance and Administration Mr. Jean Claude Nsengiyumva appreciated the Chinese for their role in infrastructure development in the EAC Partner States and specifically for their support to the EAC Secretariat. He invited the country to join the EAC’s Partnership Fund, which is a basket fund mechanism that supports various projects and programmes.
The talks were held in the context of the Framework Agreement on Economy, Trade, Investment and Technical Cooperation that the EAC and the People’s Republic of China signed in November last year.