Gabon’s in­fra­struc­ture plans get ma­jor boost

Xi and African na­tion’s pres­i­dent over­see sign­ing of pref­er­en­tial loan agree­ments

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - TOP NEWS - By AN BAIJIE an­bai­jie@chi­nadaily.com.cn

China agreed on Wed­nes­day to pro­vide pref­er­en­tial loans to Gabon to sup­port the African coun­try’s in­fra­struc­ture projects.

Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping and Gabonese Pres­i­dent Ali Bongo Ondimba over­saw the Bei­jing sign­ing cer­e­mony of four bi­lat­eral co­op­er­a­tive doc­u­ments, two of them in­clud­ing pref­er­en­tial loans.

China would pro­vide pref­er­en­tial loans for a perime­ter high­way project to be built around Li­bre­ville, cap­i­tal of Gabon, un­der one agree­ment. The 11-kilo­me­ter road, to be com­pleted by the China Road and Bridge Corp, will be a key link be­tween the new and old downtown ar­eas of the city.

Zhang Ming, vice-for­eign min­is­ter, told China Daily af­ter the sign­ing cer­e­mony that the two agree­ments on loans mean China will pro­vide ma­jor fi­nan­cial sup­port to Gabon’s in­fra­struc­ture projects.

Dur­ing the talks with Bongo, Xi said that China sup­ports Gabon’s ef­forts to speed up the coun­try’s in­dus­tri­al­iza­tion and con­vert the coun­try’s re­sources ad­van­tages into devel­op­ment re­sults.

China en­cour­ages do­mes­tic com­pa­nies to take an ac­tive part in in­fra­struc­ture projects in Gabon, Xi said, ad­ding that China hopes to sup­port Gabon’s devel­op­ment of in­dus­tries such as tourism, fi­nance and telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions.

Xi told Bongo that he was im­pressed by the African leader sur­pass­ing his fa­ther’s record for vis­it­ing China. His fa­ther, Omar Bongo Ondimba, for­mer Gabonese pres­i­dent, vis­ited China 11 times from 1974 to 2009.

Bongo is pay­ing his 12th vis- it to China from Tues­day to Fri­day. Apart from Bei­jing, he will also visit Shan­tou in Guang­dong prov­ince.

Xi said he was glad to see that Bongo chose China as the first coun­try out­side Africa to pay a state visit af­ter he was re-elected as Gabonese pres­i­dent in Au­gust, which Xi said shows Bongo’s firm res­o­lu­tion to de­velop ties with China.

Bongo ex­pressed grat­i­tude to­ward China’s sup­port, ad­ding that Gabon wants to en­hance co­op­er­a­tion with Chi- na in ar­eas in­clud­ing in­vest­ment, agriculture, min­er­als, tech­nol­ogy, tourism, fi­nance and in­fra­struc­ture.

China is Gabon’s largest trad­ing part­ner and an im­por­tant in­vest­ment source.

In De­cem­ber last year, Xi and Bongo met ahead of the Fo­rum on China-Africa Co­op­er­a­tion in Jo­han­nes­burg, South Africa.

Bongo told Xin­hua News Agency this month that Gabon wel­comes more Chi­nese in­vest­ment, es­pe­cially in man- ufac­tur­ing, to cre­ate more em­ploy­ment for the coun­try.

Some Chi­nese com­pa­nies have al­ready in­vested in the high-end wood pro­cess­ing in­dus­try in Gabon, and such man­u­fac­tur­ing and pro­cess­ing in­dus­tries are im­por­tant for Gabon, he said.

Men­tion­ing that Gabon’s econ­omy is fac­ing dif­fi­cul­ties caused by drop­ping oil prices, Bongo said that Gabon re­mains an at­trac­tive place for in­vestors and has huge eco­nomic po­ten­tial.

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