Business leaders are the driving force behind Asian-African economic development and co-operation between the two continents. At a time when Asian and African countries are discussing the establishment of a strategic partnership, more consultation among their businesses communities will help a great deal.
Today, economic globalization is taking root, which presents Asian and African countries with rare opportunities as well as challenges. Advancing science and technology, optimization and regrouping of production factors, fast-paced industrial shift and greater interdependence among states have made the global economy interactive and integral.
This has brought about favorable conditions for Asian and African countries to tap and take an active part in the international division of labor and co-operation so as to realize their own development goals. In the meantime, though, globalization has sharpened worldwide economic and technological competition. New trade barriers, recurring economic and financial crises and the widening North-South gap have marginalized some Asian and African.
Faced with both opportunities and challenges, Asians and Africans must seize opportunities, strengthen co-operation to cope with challenges and seek common development. First, we must proceed from our national conditions while mapping out plans for development. Achieving development and a model suited to our national conditions are crucial to speeding up growth. Therefore, we should share our respective experiences and apply objective laws on developing economies in the context of deepening economic globalization and improve the capacity of self-improvement.
It is important to carry out institutional reform and innovation, take advantage of market mechanism, fully tap the potential and strike a balance between long-term and immediate interests, growth and environment and efficiency and fairness. We need to rely on scientific and technological advancement and innovation, optimize economic structure and transform the growth pattern so as to realize all-round, coordinated and sustainable socio-economic development.
Second, we should carry out mutually beneficial cooperation in all fields on an equal footing. With a variety of resources and different industrial structures, our economies are complementary. We should bring into full play the coordinating role of our respective governments, mobilize and integrate resources, enterprises, individuals and international economic institutions. Let’s take advantage of our wide range of areas with focus on trade, investment, agriculture, resources exploitation, infrastructure and human resource development.
We should open up markets to one another, actively work for free trade arrangements, and coordinate our economic and trade policies. We should work together to raise funds for development, deepen industrial cooperation and guard against financial risks. It is also important to increase interaction between our regional organizations.
Third, we should create a win-win international development environment. This is an important factor that will enable countries in Asia and Africa to respond to the opportunities and challenges brought about by globalization. A fair and rational new international economic order featuring mutual benefit is not only the common aspiration of all developing countries, but a prerequisite for sustainable development.
We must strengthen coordination and urge developed countries to show more concern for the interests of developing countries and take concrete steps such as debt alleviation and development assistance with no strings attached. Assistance is also needed to improve the capacity of developing countries in human resources and scientific and technological development.
We also need to promote North-South cooperation on the basis of equality and mutual benefit, support the coordinating role of the United Nations on development issues and bring about an economic order that benefits all. The past 27 years of reform and opening-up have brought about earth-shaking changes in China.
From 1979 to 2004, China's economy has grown by an average 9.4% annually and last year’s GDP topped $1.6494 trillion. We have basically put in place a socialist market economy. Our productivity and overall national strength are constantly growing, social undertakings flourishing and the historic leap from subsistence to a moderately prosperous society is being realized.
China will adhere to the basic policy of opening the door even wider to the outside world, improve investment and business environment, enhance the legal system and participate in international economic and technological cooperation in more areas so as to effectively use international and domestic markets and resources in our quest for common development.
For a long time, China's development has benefited from the vigorous support of developing countries. As a developing country itself, China takes the strengthening of its friendship and cooperation with developing countries as the cornerstone of its foreign policy and always attaches great importance to enhancing its economic and trade cooperation with Asian and African countries.
In 2004, trade between China and Asian and African countries reached $462.99 billion, 35.5% over the previous year. Imports from Asian countries amounted to $254.07 billion with a year-on-year growth rate of 35.7% and imports from African countries hit $15.65 billion, an increase of 87.1%. China has provided preferential tariff treatment to a number of least developed countries and exempted 172 items of debts of 38 Asian and African countries.
Along with its development, China will expand and deepen its mutual cooperation with Asian and African countries and increase its assistance to underdeveloped countries in Asia and Africa. China cannot develop in isolation and the world needs China to achieve global prosperity.
A stable, open and prosperous China that adheres to its road of peaceful development will surely contribute more to world peace and common development. China will, as always, do its utmost to strengthen Asian-African friendship and intensify all-round cooperation. We are ready to work with other countries in Asia and Africa to carry on the Bandung spirit and contribute to continuous progress in Asia and Africa.
This is an edited version of Chinese President Hu Jintao’s speech at the official reception of the Asian-African Business Summit in Jakarta on April 21, 2005.
By Hu Jintao
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