(June 28, 2016)
Honorable Abdallah Abubakari, Minister of the Northern Region,
Honorable Helen Ntoso, Minister of the Volta Region,
Hon. Albert Abongo (MP), Minister of the Upper East Region,
Respected Adam Sulley, Board Chair of the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA),
Officials from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ministry of Finance,
Respected Representative of Henan Provincial Commerce Department and Entrepreneur Delegation,
Ladies and Gentlemen, My dear Compatriots,
Good afternoon! On behalf of the Chinese Embassy in Ghana, I would like to welcome all of you to attend this extraordinary China-Ghana Economic and Trade Cooperation Forum.
My first reason to define this Forum as extraordinary is that this is the first one focusing on a particular area of China-Ghana economic and trade cooperation - agricultural modernization.
Food is the first necessity of the people. Agriculture is the source of people's food and clothing for survival, and the foundation of national industrialization and economic development. The Chinese government always attaches great importance to agricultural development and establishes the four tasks of industrialization, informatization, urbanization and agricultural modernization in order to build a moderately prosperous society in an all-round way. While the four tasks are complementary and form an organic whole, yet without agricultural modernization, to fulfill industrialization, informatization and urbanization would be like water without a source and a tree without roots.
My second reason to define this Forum as extraordinary is that this is our first Forum focusing on a special zone of Ghana's national development - the Northern Savannah Ecological Zone (SADA Zone).
SADA Zone abounds in natural resources, including up to 8 million hectares of land suitable for commercial agriculture, rich mineral resources such as gold, bauxite and manganese as well as inexhaustible renewable energies of solar, wind and hydro power. The forerunner of China's democratic revolution Dr. Sun Yat-sen said, "Only the lands are fully utilized can our people enjoy sufficient food and be rich". Yet SADA zone is still suffering the overall economic backwardness and its people have a long way to get rid of poverty.
China's Western Region, covering about 70% of the total area of China, is also relatively underdeveloped region. As early as the beginning of the 21st century, the Chinese government formulated the Great Western Development Strategy with a far-reaching influence. In the past decade the Western Development Strategy has made brilliant achievements. Infrastructure construction such as railway, highway and airport has successfully broken the development bottleneck of the remote areas and driven rapid economic growth in the Western Region. China's Millennium Projects including "West-East Gas Pipeline", "West-East Electricity Transmission Project", Qinghai-Tibet Railway successfully turned Western Region's advantages of natural resources into advantages of economic development. Thousands of factories have been built on the once waste lands. The city clusters with Chongqing for example, has risen to be the fastest growing cities in China with a balanced development of multiple industries. As "the Belt and Road" strategy being advanced, China's Western Region stands once again in the forefront of interconnection with the world. International trains, transnational oil and gas pipelines and land ports incorporate China's Western Region into a grand world economic pattern, and made people in remote areas walk on the road to prosperity.
My third reason to define the Forum as extraordinary is that the Forum reflects the new direction and trend of China-Ghana economic and trade cooperation.
The Chinese government has been all along rendering strong support to agricultural modernization in Ghana through the way of financing or aiding projects as Bui Dam and Nabewam Irrigation Project, building silos and rural schools, donating agricultural implements, and providing a number of technical training opportunities. The Johannesburg Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation was successfully held at the end of last year. China has listed agricultural modernization, infrastructure, green development and poverty reduction as key items of China-Africa "Ten Major Cooperation Plans". The Chinese side will, under the spirit of the forum initiatives, uphold the guideline on China's relations with Africa featuring sincerity, real results, affinity and good faith, encourage and support Chinese companies to explore cooperation in SADA Zone, and further lift China-Ghana economic and trade cooperation to a new high.
In the next period, both sides should step up their efforts in the following areas:
First, strengthen exchanges on governance experience. China's experience in agricultural and regional development, as well as practical technology accumulated since the reform and opening up is a valuable asset. We are willing to share the experience with our Ghanaian friends without reservation. Experience is like sunshine, rainfall and fresh air - the best things in the world are tend to be free.
Second, intensify agricultural cooperation. Recently, the 1,000 Borehole Project aided by Chinese government to Ghana has kicked off and the donation of Chinese agricultural machines to SADA is accelerating. China is willing to concentrate resources to conduct cooperation in the areas of agricultural products cultivation, animal husbandry, grain storage and processing, irrigation, pest control to help improve the overall agricultural production capacity in SADA Zone. China is willing to send more agricultural experts through bilateral channel and South-South cooperation framework, and help train more agricultural technology personnel. China is willing to actively implement agricultural development projects to raise rural living standards, projects to promote environment-friendly agriculture and "Happy Life" projects in SADA Zone under the framework of FOCAC.
Third, innovate cooperation models. The Chinese side supports China's provinces and cities to pool resources for the comprehensive development of SADA Zone, actively make full use of government loans and commercial financing to boost investment in the fields of infrastructure, agriculture, mining, energy, water and health care. We encourage Chinese and Ghanaian enterprises to jointly develop hydro, solar power and other clean energy projects by sharing the proven technology in energy saving and utilization of regenerated energy of China to help solve the issue of reliable energy supply in SADA Zone.
Fourth, increase policy support. I hope the Ghanaian government will introduce a number of feasible preferential policies in the cooperation areas I mentioned above to encourage Chinese enterprises to develop SADA Zone. The government should also simplify procedures on customs and visas, and strengthen macro policy coordination and technical standards cooperation so as to create a favorable business environment.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
This forum has received a great attention from many government authorities, regions, cities and districts of Ghana, and is actively participated by Chinese companies, reflecting that both sides have board consensus in promoting economic development of our two countries and upgrading bilateral economic and trade cooperation. The development of SADA Zone couldn't happen overnight. It takes a heavy toil and embarks on a long road. I wish Chinese enterprises would carry forward the spirit of hardworking and win-win cooperation, keep striving and forging ahead to make new contributions to the China-Ghana traditional friendship.
I wish the Forum a complete success!