Keynote Speech at the Opening Ceremony of the Fifth Ministerial Conference of the Forum for Economic and Trade Cooperation Between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries
H.E. Li Keqiang, Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China
Macao, October 11, 2016
Your Excellency Prime Minister Jose Ulisses Correia e Silva of Cabo Verde,
Your Excellency Prime Minister Baciro Dja of Guinea-Bissau,
Your Excellecy Prime Minister Carlos do Rosario of Mozambique,
Your Excellency Prime Minister Antonio Costa of Portugal,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to meet you in the beautiful city of Macao and attend the opening ceremony of the Fifth Ministerial Conference of the Forum for Economic and Trade Cooperation Between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries. On behalf of the Chinese government, let me extend warm congratulations on the opening of the conference and sincerely welcome all guests coming from afar. I would also like to pay high tribute to all those who have long been committed to friendship and cooperation between China and Portuguese-speaking countries.
As is known to visitors of this city, bridges are the backbone for Macao. They are vital to economic development as well as people’s work and life. Macao used to be the proud home of Asia’s longest bridge, the Ponte de Amizade (Bridge of Friendship) which was completed in 1994. Now, together with Hong Kong and Zhuhai, Macao has just set a new record of the longest cross-sea bridge in the world. The bridge linking the three cities extends over an unprecedented 55 kilometers.
I must add that there is an even longer “cross-ocean bridge” in Macao, i.e. the Forum for Economic and Trade Cooperation Between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries. It is certainly there, though invisible. With language and culture as the bond, business cooperation as the theme, and common development as the objective, this forum has sought to fully leverage the unique strengths of Macao and played an important role in further strengthening the links between China and the seven Portuguese-speaking countries. I am sure it will continue to do so in the future.
Last year, the trade volume between China and Portuguese-speaking countries reached nearly $100 billion. China has become a leading trade partner and the fastest growing main export market for Portuguese-speaking countries. China is home to nearly one thousand companies set up by Portuguese-speaking countries, and has invested close to $50 billion and contracted projects worth over $90 billion in these countries. The two sides have also conducted fruitful cooperation in agriculture, environmental protection, transport, telecommunications and finance.
Facilitated by the forum, China and Portuguese-speaking countries have intensified exchanges at various levels. Political mutual trust and high-level exchanges have increased. Subnational cooperation has kept a strong momentum. The number of Chinese tourists visiting Portuguese-speaking countries is growing fast. The two sides have also enhanced educational and cultural contacts. The Portuguese and Chinese languages have become increasingly popular in each other’s country. Portuguese is now taught in over 20 Chinese universities. And 17 Confucius institutes have been set up in Portuguese-speaking countries. Well-known artistic works, such as samba, fado, Butterfly Lovers and Jasmine Flower have helped deepen mutual understanding and friendship among our peoples.
The world we live in has been going through profound changes both politically and economically. World economic recovery remains sluggish, marked by deep adjustment in commodity prices, lackluster trade and investment and rising protectionism in various forms. All these have posed severe challenges to the development of all countries.
The G20 Hangzhou Summit held successfully in September reached broad consensus on issues centering around the theme of the Summit: “Towards an Innovative, Invigorated, Interconnected and Inclusive World Economy.” The Summit called for building an open world economy, rejecting protectionism in all forms, reviving the engines of international trade and investment, and making sure that economic growth in a globalized world deliver opportunities to more people.
Together, China and Portuguese-speaking countries account for 17 percent of the economic output and 22 percent of the population of the world. We have respective strengths in capital, technology, resources and market and are both located at main international shipping lanes. China’s Belt and Road initiative is highly compatible with the development plans of many Portuguese-speaking countries. In the new era, China and Portuguese-speaking countries enjoy more shared interests and have a greater stake in each other’s success. China is ready to work with Portuguese-speaking countries to consolidate business relations and set a good example of friendship and cooperation among countries with different social systems and cultural backgrounds and at different development stages.
We should enhance political mutual trust, which provides firm basis for practical cooperation. Our relationship is now better than ever. In a spirit of mutual respect, equality and win-win cooperation, China is ready to work with Portuguese-speaking countries to further intensify high-level exchanges and mutual support on issues concerning each other’s major interests, properly handle differences, and foster a sound, stable and forward-looking partnership.
We should advance trade and investment liberalization and facilitation. Despite some setbacks, economic globalization is still an irreversible trend. It can help improve the division of labor among countries, increase efficiency, and expand the market. It has brought more choices of goods to consumers and increased the well-being of the people, thus serving the long-term interests of all countries. China is ready to join hands with Portuguese-speaking countries to expand mutual market openness, boost cooperation in customs, inspection and quarantine, and certification and accreditation, strengthen IPR protection, and foster an enabling trade and investment climate. China does not pursue trade surpluses with Portuguese-speaking countries. We will actively implement the policy of zero-tariff treatment to 97 percent of tax items of some Portuguese-speaking countries, increase imports from your countries, and support e-commerce between businesses of the two sides, with a view to further tapping the potential of trade growth.
We should expand cooperation on production capacity. The countries you represent are mostly in an important phase of industrialization and share an urgent need to improve infrastructure and industrial system. China has a full-fledged manufacturing structure, cost-effective equipment-making capacity, a strong construction sector and fast-growing outbound investment. Closer cooperation on production capacity provides an efficient way to complement each other’s strengths and achieve win-win results. I am glad we will be signing an MOU on production capacity cooperation at this forum.
China is ready to leverage the Silk Road Fund, the cooperation and development fund for China and Portuguese-speaking countries and other financing platforms to get major cooperation projects started as soon as possible. Cooperation on production capacity can be bilateral or tripartite. China hopes to engage Portuguese-speaking countries in various forms of tripartite cooperation by following market principles and respecting each other’s will and aim for tangible results and win-win outcomes. China and Portugal have jointly engaged in successful tripartite cooperation in a third Portuguese-speaking country. Hopefully, the useful experience of such cooperation will be duplicated and lead to new success stories elsewhere.
We should strengthen people-to-people and cultural exchanges. China hopes to deepen cooperation with Portuguese-speaking countries in education, science and technology, culture, health, sports and youth to make these exchanges a new highlight in our cooperation. China will continue to help Portuguese-speaking countries in Asia and Africa upgrade educational and cultural facilities, expand the coverage of Confucius Institutes and set up more China culture centers and other cultural exchange platforms in your countries. China is ready to intensify cooperation on human resource development through the Academy of South-South Cooperation and Development and the training center of this forum in Macao. Both China and Portuguese-speaking countries are rich in tourism resources. China is willing to extend to more forum members the status of overseas destinations for Chinese tourist groups and enhance cooperation with you in project investment and tourism promotion.
We should boost Macao’s role in our cooperation. Being bilingual, strategically located and boasting excellent infrastructure and a pro-business environment, Macao is an important bridge linking China and Portuguese-speaking countries. The Chinese government will give Macao every support in playing its role as a focal point in the Belt and Road initiative, and facilitate its efforts to set up service platforms for business cooperation between China and Portuguese-speaking countries as soon as possible and build well-functioning convention center for business cooperation, service center for SMEs and goods distribution center for Portuguese-speaking countries. All members of the forum support the idea of an annual high-level forum on international infrastructure investment and development and a ministerial dialogue on infrastructure in Macao. The building complex that will serve as the platform for our business cooperation is undergoing construction. It will offer services to trade, business talks, showcase of goods, cultural exhibits and information exchange. Once completed, it will become a new landmark for friendship and cooperation and provide high-quality facilities for cooperation platforms between China and Portuguese-speaking countries.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
China values its friendship with Portuguese-speaking countries and is ready to provide help to those in Asia and Africa within China’s capacity. Since the launch of the forum, China has signed framework agreements to offer 6.09 billion yuan worth of concessional loans, reduced or canceled 230 million yuan worth of matured debts, and trained 7,600 professionals for Asian and African Portuguese-speaking countries. All eight assistance measures pledged by China at the last ministerial meeting have been implemented.
Now, let me take this opportunity to announce major highlights of the 18 new and greater assistance measures China will implement in the next three years, which include the following:
– No less than 2 billion yuan in grant assistance for Asian and African Portuguese-speaking countries, mainly for agriculture, trade and investment facilitation, prevention and treatment of malaria, traditional medicine research and other such projects that aim to improve people’s lives.
– No less than 2 billion yuan in concessional loans for Asian and African Portuguese-speaking countries, mainly for linking up industries, cooperation on production capacity and deepening infrastructure cooperation.
– Cancellation of 500 million yuan in matured interest-free debts for least developed Asian and African Portuguese-speaking countries.
– Continued sending of medical teams with 200 personnel to Asian and African Portuguese-speaking countries, twinning of hospitals among forum members and maternal and child health programs and short-term free clinical consultation services.
– 2,000 training opportunities and 2,500 person-year Chinese government scholarships to forum members.
– Encouragement of the setting-up and upgrading of overseas business cooperation zones in forum members by Chinese companies.
– Building maritime meteorological monitoring stations and other facilities to tackle disasters and climate change in case of need in forum members.
Last but not least, we will support the establishment of a financial service platform between China and Portuguese-speaking countries, an association of business leaders, a cultural exchange center, a bilingual human resource training base and a youth innovation and entrepreneurship center in Macao and offer 30 opportunities for in-service degree programs to forum members to be jointly undertaken by the Mainland and Macao.
Macao SAR will play an important role in providing the platform and supporting the implementation of these measures.