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China, Lusophone countries extend cooperation to finance
Media, culture and the financial sector are the new areas in which China and the Portuguese-speaking countries will try to cooperate during the next three years. The ambassador of Cape Verde in Beijing, Júlio Morais, told Macau Daily Times (MDT) those sectors will be part of the new Action Plan for Economic and Trade Cooperation between the two sides.
The draft of the document was finalised on Thursday and will now be discussed at this weekend’s 3rd Ministerial Conference between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries. The Macau Dome will host the meeting, which includes several top officials, namely Chinese premier Wen Jiabao and Portuguese prime minister José Sócrates.
The strategy until 2013 is all about “continuing” the plan approved in the last conference, back in 2006, but “expanding to further sectors and issues,” Morais explained. Amante da Rosa, the deputy secretary-general of the Permanent Secretariat of the Forum for Economic and Trade Cooperation between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries (known as Macau Forum), also told MDT that the new document would have “a wider scope”.
Júlio Morais also confirmed the creation of a fund to promote relations between the two sides. On Wednesday, secretary for Economy and Finance Francis Tam Pak Yuen said Macau could contribute with MOP 400 million. The Cape Verde ambassador said the fund will be open to the participation of banks, financial institutions and other private companies from member states.
The Macau Forum will also benefit from the new plan, Morais said. The organisation will create a training centre based in the territory, to promote “the qualification of human resources,” the diplomat explained. The new institution will be open to public servants from China and the seven Portuguese-speaking countries, but to them not exclusively, he added.
Another issue on the agenda during the top-level conference will be “to give a new impulse to the operation of [Macau Forum’s] Permanent Secretariat,” Morais said. The main change is the creation of a legal status for the body and its executives, the ambassador revealed.
“Currently the representatives of the member states hardly have a legal existence here,” he said. Giving the Macau Forum a legal personality is sure to give the organisation “more effectiveness and room to manoeuvre,” Morais stressed.
Around 1,500 officials and representatives from China and the Portuguese-speaking countries will participate in the Ministerial Conference. Aside from Wen and Sócrates, East Timor president José Ramos-Horta and prime ministers Aires Ali of Mozambique and Carlos Gomes Junior of Guinea-Bissau will also attend the conference, as well as Manuel Inocêncio Sousa, minister of Infrastructure, Transports and Sea of Cape Verde, Abrahão Pio dos Santos Gourgel, minister of Economy of Angola, and the Economic Affairs deputy secretary from Brazil.
Under the main theme “Diversified Cooperation, Harmonious Development,” the event will include meetings of businessmen and finance professionals.
During the weekend, there will also be bilateral summits between several of the top-officials. For instance, Portuguese premier José Sócrates will meet both his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao and the Mozambican prime minister Aires Ali today. Sócrates is also set to speak with MSAR officials and representatives of the local Portuguese community.
Meanwhile the Chinese Trade minister Chen Deming is set to meet with counterparts from several Portuguese-speaking countries. On the sidelines, the MSAR secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Cheong U will sign tourism cooperation agreements with Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau and Mozambique and the Macau Monetary Authority will approve conventions with a few central banks of Portuguese-speaking countries.
Since the creation of the Macau Forum, there have been more than 30 exchanges of high-level visits between China and the Portuguese speaking countries, one of which was Chinese President Hu Jintao’s official visit to Brazil and Portugal this year.
Hu said during his official visit to Portugal that China not only sought to double bilateral trade volume with Portugal by 2015, but was willing to explore and enhance cooperation with other Portuguese-speaking countries through the Macau Forum.
In recent years, China’s trade ties with Portuguese-speaking countries have grown significantly. In 2008, trade volume between the two sides surged by 66.16 percent over the previous year to USD 77 billion, exceeding the goal of USD 45 to 50 billion by 2009, which was set at the second Ministerial Conference of the Forum in 2006.
The latest official figures also show that the two sides’ trade volume for the first nine months of 2010 amounted to USD 68.2 billion, increasing by 57 percent over last year.
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