Sunday, 30 December 2012 08:01

Newsletter 24

In this newsletter:

  • Bamboo Offers Lucrative Opportunities - Ambassador
  • Shoeing into Ethiopia
  • China's 'Unparalleled' Contribution to Ethiopian Development

Bamboo Offers Lucrative Opportunities - Ambassador

Seyoum Mesfin, Ethiopia's Ambassador to China, said Ethiopia has huge bamboo potential which can create significant opportunities of investment to interested foreign companies and his country welcomes Chinese manufacturers to take on a larger presence.

Ethiopia's bamboo resource potential is the biggest in the continent, accounting for 67% of the total area of bamboo coverage in Africa.  

Ambassador Seyoum made the remark on Saturday (Dec.23) at a launching ceremony of a book compiled by Prof. Peng Zhenhua and Prof. Jiang Zehui under the title "The Charm of Bamboo”

The book contains a selected 100 Ancient Chinese Poems on Bamboo.

Ambassador Seyoum's made his remarks representing Ethiopia, the current Chair of International Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR) Council.

He said Ethiopia and China are working together through their bilateral and multilateral cooperation and in collaboration with INBAR to develop the vast bamboo resources in Ethiopia

The event was officially opened by a speech delivered by the State Minister of Forestry Administration of P.R. of China.

Present at the ceremony were State Councilor of P.R. of China, Mrs. Liu Yandong, Minister of the Publicity of the Communist Party of P.R. of China, Mr. Liu Qibao, other high level Chinese Government officials, Ambassador's and heads of missions in Beijing.

Series of activities were also presented at the event which was part of the 15th anniversary celebration of INBAR, Headquartered in Beijing, China.

At the event Ambassador seyoum told journalists China is the third-largest foreign investor in Ethiopia by direct investment volume, which to date totals $364 million. The funds are distributed across the automobile, textile, hotel and machinery equipment sectors, and in the manufacturing of products for general use.

And now the door is open for Chinese investors to invest in bamboo.To encourage more Chinese investment in Ethiopia, the embassy will host a weeklong event in Beijing next year to promote business opportunities and improve cultural exchanges between the countries.



Shoeing into Ethiopia

As China's labor, manufacturing and resources costs continue to rise, Ethiopia, is hoping Chinese companies will consider opening more factories there.

"China is one of our country's main donors in building infrastructure, a big constructor and a major technology provider," said Seyoum Mesfin, Ethiopian ambassador to China. "But China will also be a major factory owner in Ethiopia and a big market for products made in Ethiopia in the future.

"Chinese companies are assembling goods in Ethiopia to ship back to China, which is more profitable than producing in China today."

Mesfin said a good labor supply; low energy costs and high-quality materials support development in his country.

It was with plentiful labor, low-cost manufacturing and an export-driven economy that China accomplished its rapid development over the past three decades, and that is the model Ethiopia wants to borrow from.

To follow in the footsteps of Chinese constructors and engineers of its infrastructure, the Ethiopian government has been inviting more manufacturers in recent years, making two industrial zones available for entrepreneurs to set up business.

Huajian, a shoe maker, is one of the best known Chinese manufacturers in Ethiopia.

The company is an original equipment manufacturer from Dongguan in Guangdong province for leading global brands such as Calvin Klein, Coach and Louis Vuitton. After meeting Ethiopian senior government officials last year, Huajian opened its factory near the country's capital, Addis Ababa, using an investment of $2 billion, which will create more than 100,000 jobs for local communities over the next decade.

"Ethiopia is an important manufacture base for us since we are going to be the OEM for world brands," Zhang Huarong, chairman of Huajian International Group, said during the World Footwear Development Forum in Dongguan last November.

Zhang said a manufacturer should not only be able to build its own reputation, but also should be able to help others by providing insight on global strategy.

"Within China, there are few opportunities to extend our manufacturing capability quickly," he said. "The best we can do is to maintain the status quo. But in Ethiopia, which is like China 30 years ago, we find many possibilities to make our business even bigger, with sufficient supplies of raw materials and labor. It's a beneficial business for the company and local people."

By the end of April, the company had opened three assembly lines in Ethiopia and hired 630 local workers in addition to 160 Chinese employees. A big contributor to Ethiopia's international trade, Huajian produces more than 2,000 pairs of shoes a day, all exported to Europe and the United States.

Three more Chinese companies started operating in Ethiopia in September and October.

"It's exciting to see more Chinese companies moving to Ethiopia," the ambassador said. "They bring excellent experience to our garment and textile industry."

With 85 million people, Ethiopia is the most populous country in East Africa. The ambassador said more than half of the population is engaged in productive labor.



China's 'Unparalleled' Contribution to Ethiopian Development

Ethiopian Ambassador to china, Ambassador Seyoum Mesfin, said China "is making an unparalleled and historic contribution to the development drive of Ethiopia."

He commended China's partnership and support in infrastructural development and in transforming Ethiopia's human resource into human capital, noting that China had become the largest trading partner of Ethiopia.

Ambassador Seyoum made the remarks during the launch ceremony of the Africa Communication Research Center of the Communications University of China.

He said the current strategic partnership between China and Ethiopia was the result of shared vision and shared interests, and he described the level of cooperation in the field of media and communication between Ethiopia and China as highly satisfactory.

Mesfin added. "In almost all major infrastructure programs in Ethiopia, you can find a Chinese company's footprint. They help us collect more natural resources and lower the cost of energy, which has become a major attraction for international investors."

Ambassador Seyoum also noted that China-Africa relations were founded on people-to-people, trade and cultural ties. China has proved to be everything for Africa, he said "a friend, donor, financier, builder, investor, and trade partner in a win-win strategic partnership."

But, above all, Ambassador Seyoum added, China is "an inspiration as well as an alternative model for modernization and exclusive socio-economic transformation." China's rise to global power and influence and most importantly its commitment to Africa's growth and transformation was based on the concept of a win-win cooperation which had made China "the natural ally for Africa in launching a new trajectory of socio-economic transformation."

In an earlier interview Ambassador Seyoum said “Thousands of Ethiopian students are studying in Chinese universities. Besides learning about China, they also attend activities at their schools to introduce Ethiopian culture to Chinese friends.”

He said "The more we understand each other, the better we can cooprate and seek common interest together. We welcome friends in China to come to our Ethiopian week in Beijing next year to get to know  us better."

Steered by Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) and stimulated by the fulfillments of Chinese commitments on economic cooperation and trade announced at the fourth ministerial conference of the forum on China-Africa cooperation in 2009, the two sides have withstood the test of the financial crisis. As a result, the trade and economic cooperation have witnessed faster growth across wider areas in more diversified forms.

The trade volume between China and Africa hit $166.3b in 2011, growing by 83% from 2009. China is the largest trading partner of Africa. China’s direct investment in Africa reached $14.7b by the end of 2011, up 60% from 2009. More than 2,000 Chinese companies have invested in Africa.

The diversity of projects devised and implemented under the helm of the Chinese government and in cooperation with Africa counterparts has in many cases benefits the locals. In the second decade of the 21st century, trade and economic cooperation between China and Africa finds itself standing at a new starting point but as China and Africa both need to restructure economies and transform growth patterns, there is a pressing need and great potential for the two sides to collaborate on industrial relocation.

China will continue to expand investment cooperation with Africa and migrate to Africa industrial chains so as to extend the value-added chain for “Made in Africa” products and create more job opportunities for Africans.