Malawi President Joyce Banda, who on Friday winds up her official to the People’s Republic of China, addressed the First China-South Asia Exposition and Twenty First Kunming Import and Export Fair, in Kunming, Yunnan Province in China on Thursday, June 6, 2013, at the invitation of the Government of the People’s Republic of China.
The official opening ceremony of the Expo was held at Kunming International Convention and Exhibition Centre.
The President, the only female and African Head of State at the event, addressed the high-level gathering of business and private sector captains, South Asia Heads of State and Government and others, with a call to Asian investors to come and invest in Malawi, where the political environment is stable and government policies predictable and friendly towards investors.
Banda said she believed that the Fair provided them with useful insights with respect to the need for increased cooperation and smart-partnerships between China, Asia and Africa. Malawi offers her full support to the promotion of such relationship, she noted.
The President expressed gratitude to Chin, for inviting Malawi to be part of “this important event and for the warm welcome and hospitality you have accorded us since our arrival in this beautiful and great country”.
Banda said Malawians value their relationship with China, which she noted has been growing steadily from strength to strength since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 2007.
Said President Banda:“This year marks the 6th Anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Malawi. As this cooperation continues to grow, both peoples have recognized that high-level exchange of ideas and people-to-people interactions are a prerequisite for any successful cooperation. Our coming here today emphasizes that point.
“While here, we have held cordial and in-depth discussions with the Chinese leadership and distinguished Chinese business leaders. We have also had an opportunity to interact with the national leaders and business captains from south Asian countries”.
The President told the gathering that Malawi’s economy was experiencing serious political and socio-economic challenges when she took over in April 2012 and that her administration has since made bold decisions to embark on an economic recovery plan to recover and build the economy.
She said the economy has now turned around “having laid a solid foundation for investment climate and macro-economic stability”.
Banda noted that the China-South Asia Expo was a pragmatic model of cooperation, which would bring trade and investments opportunities “not only to China and Asia but also to Africa”.
Said the President:“The Sino-Africa partnership proves that relations between China and Africa are natural, sincere, mutually beneficial and unshakeable. African countries, through their participation here in this Fair, will not only find opportunities relevant for our continent but also market the new and emerging Africa to China and Asia”.
She observed that this is more important now at a time of great hope and opportunity in Africa when a significantly different picture of Africa is emerging. The President said in Africa, progress has been made in many areas that are important for the creation of a climate conducive to foreign investment.
Trade liberalization, the strengthening of the rule of law, political stability in many parts of Africa, improvements in legal and other instruments as well as the telecommunications and transport infrastructures are some of the key positive changes aiding Africa’s business climate, said the President.
She called on China and other participants at the Exposition to work with Africa in modernizing Africa’s agricultural sector; to develop the rural economies of Africa in order to generate agricultural growth and job creation; and to establish and strengthen skills and vocational training for our youths and women in order to create jobs.
The Malawi leader noted that the key driver to Africa’s economic success has been its natural wealth, where Africa prides in contributing to about 30 percent of the world’s mineral reserves, including about 40 percent of the world’s gold reserves.
Said President Banda: “The exciting news is that the natural resources wealth explains just a part of the story. What I have observed is that Africa’s economy is becoming increasingly diversified in the following key sectors: financial services, health and pharmaceuticals, infrastructure, energy, construction, information and communication technology. I understand that Foreign Direct Investment on the continent increased from $10 billion in 2000 to almost $60billion in 2009. This can only bear testimony that returns on investment in Africa are among some of the highest in the world”.
The theme of the First China-South Asia Expo seeks is ‘Promoting all-round China-South Asia cooperation and development and shared opening-up, pragmatic cooperation, mutual benefit and harmonious development’. The First China-South Asia Expo ends on June 10, 2013.
The China-South Asia Expo seeks to enhance economic and business cooperation between China and South Asian countries. The China-South Asia Expo provides a platform upon which regional integration, inter-China-Asia trade and investment, and movement of the peoples and capital in the region will be promoted.
The First China-South Asia Exposition is expected to develop a showcase for commodities deals, service trade, investment partnerships, and cultural exchanges. It is expected to grow into a high-end and comprehensive exhibition and become a bridge for win-win cooperation between China and countries of South Asia and a platform for China and South Asia countries to expand economic and commercial exchanges with other countries and regions.
Other leaders who spoke at the opening ceremony, included President of Sri Lanka Lankavay Janadhipathi, the leaders of Vietnam, Malaysia, Myanmar and Chinese Vice Premier, Ma Kia.
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