BEIJING — As global trade and investment are still beset with difficulties, China and Portuguese-speaking countries (PSCs), with highly complementary economies, are exploring a “fast lane” for bilateral trade.
In a newly-signed action plan at a ministerial-level conference earlier this week, China and the PSCs pledged to expand cooperation from investment in trade to areas like finance, marine investment and environmental protection.
The action plan demonstrates a clearer theme with cooperation extending to more emerging industries, said Chinese Commerce Minster Gao Hucheng at the conference.
The Fifth Ministerial Conference of the Forum for Economic and Trade Cooperation between China and the PSCs was held in Macao on Oct 11 and Oct 12.
During the conference, deepening cooperation in industrial production capacity was another important aspect that China and the PSCs were eyeing.
Most Portuguese-speaking countries are at a critical stage of industrialization, endeavoring to improve infrastructure and upgrade their industrial structures. China, with a fairly complete industrial and manufacturing system and increasing overseas investment, can fully use its complementary advantages and create long-lasting and mutually beneficial cooperation with the PSCs.
A memorandum of understanding (MOU) to boost relevant cooperation was signed by the two sides at the conference. It is the first of its kind signed since the launch of the forum in 2003.
The MOU will help promote substantial bilateral cooperation in manufacturing, infrastructure and other relevant fields between China and the PSCs, said Gao.
China and the PSCs, namely Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau, Mozambique, Portugal and Timor-Leste, account for 17 percent of the global economy and 22 percent of the world’s population. Bilateral trade between the two sides exceeded $360 billion between 2013-2015.
In the area of investment, various Chinese investments in the PSCs has so far reached nearly $50 billion.
Till now, the PSCs have established almost 1,000 enterprises in China. The contract amount of Chinese enterprises in the PSCs has exceeded $90 billion.
Bilateral cooperation in areas such as agriculture, environmental protection, transportation, telecommunication and finance have also yielded positive results.
Apart from enhanced trade exchange, complementary advantages are another feature between China and each Portuguese-speaking country.
As one of Brazil’s largest trading partners, China’s steady economic growth offers more export opportunities for Brazil’s coal and agricultural goods, which are among the country’s pillar economic products.
In Portugal, Chinese investment has increased largely in recent years, covering sectors as energy, electricity, communication, civil aviation, finance, insurance and healthcare.
Chinese and Portuguese enterprises also work together to explore international markets. China Three Gorges Corporation, through its company in Portugal, develops hydropower, wind power and new energy markets with Portugal in Latin America, Europe and the United States.
There is huge potential for the development of China-Portugal trade, said Chinese Ambassador to Portugal Cai Run on Oct 12 in an interview with Xinhua.
Meanwhile, China’s Belt and Road Initiative can also serve to strengthen economic ties with the PSCs, as both sides are located along major international shipping routes.
Financing platforms such as the Silk Road Fund and the China-PSCs Cooperation and Development Fund will be fully used to carry out cooperation projects between the two sides.
“Portugal is willing to participate in building the new Maritime Silk Road,” said Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa while attending the forum, “and make the best use of its strategic position.”