Seize Opportunities, Expand Opening-up and Create a New Era for China-Kenya Economic and Trade Cooperation


Your Honorable Ms. Betty Maina, PS of Ministry of Industry, Trade and Cooperatives,


Your Honorable Dr. Moses Ikiara, Managing Director of Kenya Investment Authority,


Your Honorable Mr. Kiprono Kittony, Chairman of Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry,


Your Honorable Mr. Lin Tao, President of China Council for the Promotion of International Trade Guangdong Committee,


Your Honorable Mr. Yu Jinfu, Vice Mayor of Huizhou,


Ladies and Gentlemen,


Good afternoon!


On behalf of the Chinese Embassy, I would like to extend my warm congratulations on the China (Guangdong)-Kenya Economic and Trade Cooperation Conference co-hosted by the Kenya Investment Authority, China Council for the Promotion of International Trade Guangdong Committee and Huizhou Municipal Government.


This year marks the 40th anniversary of China's reform and opening-up. Guangdong Province is the pioneer and front-runner of this great policy practice. Over the 40 years, the annual average economic growth rate of Guangdong stood at 12.5 %. The size of Guangdong's economy in 2017 was 482 times of that in 1978. The province's GDP has surpassed that of Singapore, Chinese Hong Kong and Taiwan region in 1998, 2003 and 2007 respectively, and got close to the Republic of Korea in 2017. Guangdong has created miracle in its economic and social development. But Guangdong people have never relaxed their efforts. This province will continue to deepen its reform, open wider to the outside world, pursue higher quality development, and build a new pattern of all-around opening-up. Today, the economic and trade delegation led by President Lin Tao has come from afar to explore cooperation opportunities in Kenya. This is a concrete action of Guangdong's opening-up endeavor in the new era.


China and Kenya signed trade agreement as early as 1978, the very first year when China adopted the reform and opening-up policy. In recent years, the level of economic and trade cooperation between our two countries has kept increasing. Now Kenya is China's strategic partner in pushing forward the Belt and Road Initiative and China-Africa industrial capacity cooperation. China has become Kenya's biggest trade partner, foreign investor and project contactor. Responding to the Belt and Road Initiative, more and more enterprises from Guangdong, the forefront of China's reform and opening-up, have come to Kenya and built a series of projects together with Kenyan counterparts. At the same time, they have brought to Kenya advanced technologies and equipments, and shared their experiences with Kenyan friends.


The first is the cooperation on economic special zone construction. The Pearl River Special Economic Zone is planned and constructed by enterprises of Guangdong and Kenya. This is the first SEZ of Kenya, in which two billion USD is expected to be invested. The Pearl River SEZ will accelerate Kenya's industrialization and create more than 40,000 job opportunities.


The second is technology sharing. Huawei, one of the most famous Guangdong companies, uses its latest technology to support Kenya's telecom system. In collaboration with Kenyan government, Huawei has developed government cloud service. The products and service of Huawei have entered Kenyan people's daily life.


The third is common entrepreneurship. The Twyford Ceremics Company has imported two production lines from China. In just two years, the company has become the biggest building ceramics supplier in East Africa. Its daily production capacity has reached 60,000 square meters. The products of Twyford has taken up over 70% market share of Kenya and exported to other East African countries. The raw materials are totally supplied by the local mines and the number of local employees has surpassed 1,500.


With the rapid development of China-Kenya relations, more and more people have paid closer attention to China-Kenya cooperation. Recently, I have found that some questions were frequently raised.


Some people ask, "Will Kenya fall into 'debt trap' with the borrowing from China?" Let me put it this way. A young man wants to set up his business. While he needs land, technology, labor force and market, what he needs most is definitely capital. At this stage, those who are willing to lend him money are his true friends indeed and the ones who are optimistic about his prospect. And the money will be used to start business. I believe you will all agree that this is the most valuable and timely assistance. As requested by the Kenyan government, China has provided finance to support Kenya's development projects such as transportation infrastructure, power transmission systems and dams. These projects are in line with the development agenda of Kenya, including the Big Four. They are aimed at boosting Kenya's economic development and improving people's livelihood. The interest rate of Chinese loan is comparatively low and the repayment period is considerably long enough. Each loan has undergone strict assessment and feasibility study. The debt sustainability of Kenya was taken into full account. The money from China is the foreign exchange earned through export with Chinese people's hard work. Lending our money to Kenya is a reflection of our friendship. It is also because of our optimism about Kenya's promising economic prospect.


Some other people worry that, Kenya's trade deficit resulted from its growing trade volume with China will undermine Kenya's economy. My answer is: China never pursues trade surplus in purpose. The current trade imbalance between China and Kenya is the result of the globalized market and our difference in economic and industrial structure. In fact, Kenyan market has huge demand on Chinese products, which are advantaged in quality and price. The products for daily use have remarkably lowered Kenyan people's living cost and improved their living standard. The imported machinery and equipment from China have facilitated Kenya's industrialization. We will encourage Chinese companies to invest more in Kenya. At the same time, we welcome Kenyan companies to expand their exports to China. The First China International Import Expo will be held in Shanghai this November. Kenya has been invited and thus Kenyan coffee, tea and flowers will be showcased and promoted in Chinese market. China will also encourage more Chinese tourists to visit Kenya. As H.E. Chinese President Xi Jinping emphasizes, China will continue to adhere to its fundamental national policy of opening-up and pursue development with its door open even wider.


Ladies and Gentlemen,


This year marks the 55th anniversary of the China-Kenya diplomatic relations, and also bears significance in the history of China-Kenya relations. The Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation will be held in Beijing this time next month. President Uhuru Kenyatta will visit China and gather together with the leaders from China and other African countries to map out the blueprint for China-Africa cooperation. We believe that, with the joint efforts of both sides, the cooperation between China and Kenya will usher in a new era of vigorous development and continue to be an example for the China- African cooperation. With the aim to improve the future development of the economic and trade relations of China and Kenya, I would like to share with you some of my suggestions.


Firstly, seize the golden opportunities. There is only one month left for the FOCAC summit, and three months away from the First China International Import Expo. New policies and measures will be designed and initiated in such areas as investment, trade, finance, industry, agriculture. More Chinese enterprises will be encouraged to come to Africa and develop in Africa, with the view of not only committing to their self-development, but also making greater contribution to the China-Kenya friendship and the local economic and social development. I believe these two important events will bring more fruitful results to the China-Kenya practical cooperation.


Secondly, promote the integration of both sides' development strategies. As Kenya's key cooperative partner, China will continue to push forward the integration of the Belt and Road Initiative with Kenya's development strategies such as the Big Four. After 40 years of reforms and opening-up, the cost of resources and labor force in Guangdong has increased a lot. Therefore, transforming the growth mode and adjusting the economic structure has become the only way for Guangdong to achieve further development. Kenya is now in its initial stage of industrialization. Therefore, Kenya could utilize the high-quality production capacity, large amount of capital, advanced technologies and rich experience boasted by Guangdong, to achieve mutual benefits and win-win cooperation.


Thirdly, push forward the upgrading of cooperation. Apart from our traditional cooperation in infrastructure, China will push forward our cooperation in the areas like agricultural processing, manufacturing, industrial zone development. We will continuously improve the quality and increase the benefits of our cooperation, and enrich the ways of investment and financing. I require that the Chinese enterprises in Kenya should adhere to the principles of sincerity, practical results, affinity and good faith and uphold the values of friendship, justice and shared interests when cooperating with their Kenyan partners. At the same time, we will give full play to both complementary advantages of both sides and improve the added-value of products, thus driving the transformation and upgrading of China-Kenya cooperation.


Currently, the world economic situation is so complex that trade protectionism and unilateralism rise against globalization. China would like to work together with Kenya in the spirit of Harambee. Let's roll up our sleeves, work harder against the challenges and create a brighter future for the China-Kenya cooperation.


I wish today's conference a success. Thank you.


(Ambassador Sun Baohong's Speech on the China (Guangdong)-Kenya Economic and Trade Cooperation Conference)

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