China of great help to Africa in fighting global financial crisis: Zambian minister

Via Xinhua.

WASHINGTON, April 25 (Xinhua) — China is of great help to African countries in their efforts to deal with the current global financial crisis and the worst world economic downturn since the Great Depression in the 1930s, Zambian Minister of Finance Situmbeko Musokotwane told Xinhua here on Saturday.

Musokotwane, who is in Washington to attend the two-day annual spring sessions of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), said in an exclusive interview with Xinhua that the Chinese assistance includes efforts to save jobs for Zambians by the Chinese mining company, and offering the low-interest loans to African countries including his nation.

“The Chinese mining company in Zambia is not going to lay off any one,” he said. “They are not cutting jobs.”

Due to the current global financial crisis, the mining industry in Zambia is the hardest hit as African countries are feeling the effect of the financial crisis, which started some six months ago in the United States, said the minister.

“For us, the biggest pain is in the mining industry,” he said. “Our ability to ensure the financial stability also declined.”

The mining industry has been the economic and social backbone for Zambia since the 1930s. Since that time a wide spectrum of other metalliferous and non-metalliferous resources have been discovered in the East African country.

Zambia is internationally recognized as a major producer of copper and cobalt. It ranks as the world’s seventh largest producer of copper, generating 3.3 percent of the western world’s production, and world’s second largest producer of cobalt, which accounts for 19.7 percent of the world total.

Meanwhile, the minister said that after the November 2006 China-Africa Summit in the Chinese capital Beijing, China had offered low-interest loans to Africa, including Zambia.

“Obviously, China is providing low-interest loans to Zambia, (and) not just Zambia, but Africa,” the minister said.

The two-day Beijing Summit, highlighting “friendship, peace, cooperation and development,” drew 41 heads of state or government and senior officials of 48 African countries that have diplomatic ties with China, as well as representatives from regional and international organizations.

The Summit was held within the framework of the China-Africa Cooperation Forum (CACF), which was jointly proposed and established by China and some African countries in 2000, with the aim of “equal negotiation, enhancing understanding, increasing consensus, strengthening friendship and promoting cooperation.”

The CACF is a mechanism for China-Africa collective dialogue and cooperation to cope with new challenges and facilitate common development.

In the Saturday interview, the Zambian minister also said that he hopes to see more Chinese investment in Zambia and other African countries.

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