MACAU [ ABN NEWS + MACAUHUB ] — The secretary-general of the Macau Forum, Xu Yingzhen said on Wednesday she hoped that the future development of cooperation between China and Portuguese-speaking countries would involve strengthening private partnerships in all economic and financial sectors.
Xu Yingzhen spoke days before the 5th Ministerial Conference of Forum Macau to be held in Macau on 11 and 12 October and attended by senior officials from Angola, Brazil, China, Cabo Verde (Cape Verde), Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Portugal and Timor-Leste (East Timor).
“The Forum wants economic and trade cooperation between China and Portuguese-speaking countries to develop in a more sustainable way and, therefore, there must be greater involvement of the private sector,” she said.
The Secretary-General considered the fall in trade between China and the Portuguese-speaking countries a consequence of the international economic reality but expressed optimism about economic recovery of relations and noted that at present there are 400 Chinese companies with investments in Portuguese-speaking countries, including some large ones such as China Grid, Three Gorges, Hainan Airlines, Fosun, Bank of China and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, which have made investments in the order of US$4.5 billion.
Xu Yingzhen also noted the difficulties of access and little use of a 1.8 billion yuan credit line provided by China to support projects in Portuguese-speaking African countries and East Timor. She added that she was still waiting for a response to the proposal of the Macau Institute for Trade and Investment Promotion (IPIM), which acts as an intermediary between entrepreneurs, the Chinese fund and the Macau Government, for the China Development Bank to install in Macau an office to provide technical assistance to companies interested in this financial support.
The secretary-general of the Macau Forum said that in the last three years Portuguese-speaking African countries and East Timor had received US$270 million in loans from China with favourable terms.
Xu Yingzhen recalled that when the Macau Forum was established, cooperation focussed on just seven areas and now covers 17, a number that will certainly increase after the next ministerial conference.
The Deputy Secretary-General, Vicente de Jesus Manuel, said in turn that Angola, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique and East Timor have benefited from the financial support.
Manuel considered that economic cooperation between China and Portuguese-speaking countries had mainly been based in the areas of infrastructure, energy, agriculture, fisheries and tourism.
The Deputy Secretary-General of the Macau Forum also said that one of the solutions to reverse the decline in trade between China and the Portuguese-speaking countries is to strengthen and diversify “the economy of the Portuguese-speaking countries that are major exporters of raw unprocessed materials.”
In 2003 China gave Macau the role of cooperation platform between China and the Portuguese-speaking countries and in October of the same year created Macau Forum, which meets at ministerial level every three years.