(20 January, 2016)
Your Honorable Seth Terkper, Minister of Finance, representing His Excellency President of the Republic of Ghana,
Respected Madame Chairperson,
Your Honorable Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, Minister of Trade and Industry,
Colleagues from the Diplomatic Corps,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my great pleasure to participate in the Ghana Economic Outlook and Business Strategy Conference 2016 and exchange views with important stakeholders on this important issue of industrialization.
Everyone agrees that industrialization is the inevitable course for a nation to achieve development, prosperity and rejuvenation. This is also an unremitting pursuit by the founding fathers of the independent African countries like Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. Yet the industrialization of Africa always challenges conventional wisdom. When in 1989 the 44th United Nations General Assembly designated 20th November of each year African Industrialization Day, aiming to promote the industrialization process of Africa, the total industrial output value of Sub-Saharan Africa only accounted for 0.7% of that of the world. The situation has improved since but not to a big margin, leaving African countries’ economy vulnerable to the external risks and weak on sustainable development.
People keep comparing African lions with Asian tigers. What interests me most is that I think African people actually know the crux of the problem. And at similar occasions like this, I have heard very frank, merciless, no-holds-barred opinions pouring out of African people being critical about themselves. Some of them even laugh at me for not contributing sharp views. Well, I may not be good enough at mastering English, but more important as Chinese Ambassador to Ghana, my task is not to lecture but share.
China is viewed as the biggest miracle in terms of development in human history. In the past over 30 years, China's average growth rate exceeds 9 percent. Hundreds of millions of people are pulled out of poverty. The largest scale of industrialization, infrastructure construction and urbanization has taken place in China. But China’s trajectory of development has never been smooth. In early years of the founding of PRC, we copied the industrialization model of a few socialist countries featured by prioritizing heavy industry but failed. In the period of "great-leap-forward", we wishfully set the goal of surpassing UK and US in a dozen of years, but that only led to the catastrophe on our nation and people. Now as the second largest economy in the world, we still face the pressure of economic downturn as well as problems of irrational economic structure and unsustainable growth mode.
China is pursuing a more balanced, sustainable and inclusive development and focuses on higher-level of industrialization, agricultural modernization, IT and urbanization so as to overcome the middle-income trap. The Chinese government is committed to properly handling the relationship between the government and the market, to make sure that the market will play a decisive role in allocating resources and thus fully unleash the internal driving force and vitality of the market. We are working hard to innovate the macro-economic policies, streamline the administration, delegate more powers to lower-level governments and the society, relax the restrictions on the market players and provide public goods in a more effective manner. We cut the number of items that require government review by one third and completely cancel all non-administrative review, culminating in the ease of financial burden on the enterprises and people to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars. We are implementing the strategy of innovation-driven development and encouraging the popular entrepreneurship and mass innovation. By means of simplification of procedures, policy and financial support and tax reductions, we have created a favorable environment for popular entrepreneurship and mass innovation to develop new engines for economic growth as well as to improve and upgrade the industrial structure.
China is a responsible country. Though there are many complex and uncertain factors in the global economic situation, China has made it clear that it will not resort to measures such as trade protectionism or the old colonial way of plundering others to solve its own problem. We are fully aware of the fact that reform and opening up have played a defining role in the Chinese miracle and this will only be strengthened instead of being weakened. China is committed to promoting a new type of international relations featuring win-win cooperation, and to forming a network of high interdependence and mutual benefits through extensive international business and technological cooperation. China is advancing the "Belt and Road" initiative, building connectivities with neighboring countries, and actively advocating "Three Major Networks" and industrialization in Africa. Four days ago, the Opening Ceremony of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank was held in Beijing. President Xi Jinping said in his address that China has taken an active part in, contributed a constructive part and benfitted from the international development system. The initiative of AIIB will enable China to undertake more international obligations, promote improvement of the current international economic system and provide more international public goods. And when you look at the 5 major pillars, 10 major cooperation plans plus USD 60 billion funding support pledged by the Chinese government at the Johannesburg Summit of the Forum on China Africa Cooperation held one month ago, with industrialization, agricultural modernization, infrastructure, financial cooperation listed as the priority cooperation areas, one can see the same commitment that China welcomes African countries to ride on its development and stands ready to work with African countries to upgrade cooperation for mutual benefit. China has entrenched a new set of development concepts of innovation, balanced growth, green economy, opening-up, and inclusive development and by way of deepening reform and wider opening up we will solve the problem of unbalanced, uncoordinated and unsustainable development and enable the Chinese economy to successfully transform itself and maintain strong momentum of growth.
China's development provides historical opportunities for Africa and Ghana. China and Africa, Ghana included, are enjoying unprecedentedly close relations, with China-Africa cooperation contributing to more than 20% of Africa's growth. African countries are striving for economic transformation. They are keen on replacing the low-value-added development mode characterized by over-reliance on exports of raw materials and primary products, and they are longing for speeding up industrialization and enhancing capacities to fend off economic and financial risks. China has stepped into a more mature stage of industrialization, with abundant surplus capacity that is competitive, advanced and green. This copes well with the exact need of Africa. The international cooperation on industrial production capacity and equipment manufacturing promoted by China has brought new opportunities for Africa's efforts in realizing its dream of industrialization.
Due to the past experience in economic development, China always sympathizes with Africa on its pursuit of the development path suited to its national conditions, and therefore always views Africa's development from a long-term and objective perspective. Despite temporary economic difficulties the past 2015 has witnessed fruitful cooperation between our two countries. China-Ghana's trade volume in the first three quarters of 2015 hit USD 5.01 billion, increasing by 27.9% percent over the same period of the previous year. Chinese FDI to Ghana is on constant increase. Many projects financed or aided by China are playing a crucial role in Ghana's economic transformation and improvement of people's livelihood. What is more, I have also observed with great satisfaction the integration of Chinese technology, advanced equipment and expertise with Ghanaian private sector. Africa Slipway, Prefos, Danadams, Kantaka, Jospong, all these Ghanaian pioneering enterprises have elevated their competitiveness from their cooperation with China.
For the time being, the Chinese Embassy in Ghana is actively implementing the follow up action of the Johannesburg Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation. We are interacting in an in-depth way with competent ministries to set up the working mechanism and identify projects. We are pushing for more exchange of visits and negotiating trade and investment facilitation arrangements. We are encouraging Ghana's business community to expand their exports to China and encouraging Chinese enterprises to invest more in energy, manufacturing, housing and agro product processing sectors of Ghana and to carry out cooperation in infrastructure constructions through diversified modes. This year the Embassy plans to hold the economic and trade forum in Tamale and Takoradi. Last year we did two in Tema and Kumasi, where both the Chinese business community and the Ghanaian business community participated and interacted with each other to seek deep integration, enlarge converging interests and identify growth areas for cooperation.
Honorable Ministers, Ladies and Gentlemen,
In two weeks time, Chinese lunar new year will be coming. This is the Year of Monkey. Monkey is the symbol of being intelligent in mind and deft in hand. Maybe we need to learn from this so that not only we can draw grand plan but also can turn the plan into reality. So let us challenge ourselves the ability of mutual combination of hand and brain, the ability to get things done and strive hard for the industrialization and transformation of this beautiful country called Ghana.
I wish the conference a great success and all of you a happy new year!