China and Pacific Island Countries Develop Mutually Beneficial Economic Ties
At the recent China-Pacific Island Countries Economic Development and Cooperation Forum held in the city of Xiamen, in the Fujian province of China, Minister of Commerce, Chen Deming expressed his confidence that the trade between the two sides will reach $2 billion by the end of 2008, with the goal of reaching $3 billion by 2010.
Senior officials of eleven Pacific island countries attended the forum where during his presentation, Chen Deming noted that the economies of China and the Pacific island countries complement one another and he sees great potential for cooperation into the future. In view of the steady increase in trade following the setting up of an economic development and cooperation framework in 2006, all parties have sound reason to be optimistic. Customs data reveals that in 2007 trade between China and thirteen Pacific island countries reached $1.53 billion, reflecting a 24.4 percent increase over 2006. Imports of primarily fishery and forestry products from the Pacific island countries reached $660 million in 2007, being an increase of 26.9 percent over the previous year. Exports from China consisted principally of light industrial products, textile products and electro-mechanical goods, the value of which reached $870 million, reflecting an increase of 22.5 percent. Countries such as Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands are rich in minerals, offering opportunities for future export.
Following an announcement made two years ago by Premier Wen Jiabao that China would assist the Pacific island countries in their economic development, Beijing has extended loans in excess of 1.2 billion Yuan to them. Moreover, 278 products originating from the least developed countries, including Samoa and Vanuatu, have the advantage of being tariff free. The effectiveness of these steps has already been seen in that China’s imports from these countries had already reached $400 by the end of May 2008, being an increase of 21 percent when compared with the same period in 2007.
Statistics from China’s Ministry of Commerce show that China has invested $310 million in the Pacific island countries, primarily in resources development, aviation, fisheries and construction services. Chinese manufactured airplanes and ships have proven to be a successful import to the Pacific island countries, while China’s investment in agricultural development and human resources training has played an active role in the socio-economic development of these countries.