Li hosts Nigerian president to boost trade

Updated: 2013-07-12 07:40

By Li Xiaokun (China Daily)

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China and Nigeria vowed to deepen ties on Thursday, one day after the two countries finalized accords to finance development in Nigeria.

Premier Li Keqiang and visiting Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan vowed to "boost mutual political trust and deepen comprehensive cooperation" during their meeting at the Great Hall of the People, according to a statement issued by the Foreign Ministry.

Cooperation between Beijing and Abuja is in the front line of China's cooperation with African nations, Li said.

Jonathan is on a four-day state visit that started on Tuesday, as he strives to boost trade ties between Asia's economic locomotive and Africa's biggest oil producer.

He has brought along about a dozen of his cabinet ministers, as well as several state governors, senior government officials and businesspeople.

He Wenping, a researcher of African studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the visit came after Jonathan declared an emergency in three states in northern Nigeria in May due to terrorist attacks that have left more than 200 people dead.

Gunmen attacked a Nigerian boarding school on Saturday, dousing a dormitory in fuel and lighting it ablaze as students slept. At least 30 people were killed.

"That Jonathan insisted on the scheduled China visit under such domestic pressure indicates the importance he has attached to relations with China," said He.

Niu Xinchun, a senior expert at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said the fact that Jonathan has brought his defense minister to China, which is not common for African leaders visiting China, suggests Abuja wants to improve security cooperation with Beijing.

Signing of accords

Jonathan met President Xi Jinping on Wednesday. The two presidents presided over the signing of accords between their governments, which reportedly will facilitate $1.1 billion in low-interest loans for infrastructure in Nigeria.

Xinhua News Agency said in a commentary on Thursday that the visit would boost relations between the world's second-largest economy and the second-biggest economy in Africa.

As a resource-rich country with some 70 percent of its population under the age of 30, Nigeria has enviable growth potential and offers valuable business opportunities for China, Xinhua said.

China in 2012 became the largest importer of oil from the West African nation due to the decline in US oil imports from Nigeria. Revenues generated from oil account for about 80 percent of Nigerian government revenues.

According to the latest UN forecast, by mid-century Nigeria will have a larger population than the US. By 2100, the African nation could be the second-most populous country in the world.

Its economy is also one of the most promising on the African continent, with an annual growth rate of about 7 percent over most of the past decade.

Jonathan also met top legislator Zhang Dejiang on Thursday, and leaders of companies including Sinopec, Huawei and ZTE.

He also participated in a special session of the Nigeria-China Investment Forum, which was attended by leading Chinese investors and their Nigerian counterparts.

Zhang Fan and AP contributed to this story.