PRESIDENT Ali Bongo Ondimba of the Gabonese Republic was on a state visit to the People’s Republic of China, from December 6 to 9, 2016, at the invitation of President Xi Jinping, his Chinese counterpart. During the trip, Ondimba’s first outside of Africa following his re-election and also within the bilateral framework – the two heads of state discussed how to raise Chinese-Gabonese relations to the rank of ‘comprehensive collaborative partnership’. The propsed ambition was confirmed during discussions with Li Keqiang, premier of the State Council, and Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress.
The agreements signed by the Gabonese and Chinese governments and the respective investment promotion organisations, ANPI and CCPIT, testify to the reality of the “boost” hoped for by Ali Bongo Ondimba. The time has come for Africa and Asia to see private investment flows accompany public initiatives. China, the world’s second largest economic power, enjoys a presence in Gabon through around 30 companies. It has seen the volume of these trade exchanges increase five-fold in the last eight years to $1.77 billion. China is Gabon’s third largest supplier, representing 8.6 percent of its import volume, and its top client, accounting for 14.2 percent of its exports.
At a gathering of more than 300 businessmen and women who came to celebrate Chinese-Gabonese cooperation with the backing of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, CCPIT, and the ambassador of the Gabonese Republic in China, the president of the Gabonese Republic confirmed “the full disposition of Gabon to accommodate direct Chinese investments in agriculture, tourism, industry and banking, among other sectors. With regards to the mining sector, Gabon has two large projects, Belinga and Maboumine. Specifically regarding Belinga, where iron reserves are estimated at more than one billion tonnes, Gabon is seeking outstanding financial and technical Chinese partners for this large-scale project. The same is true for the polymetallic deposit of Maboumine, where the consortium comprised of the State of Gabon and the Eramet Group is looking for Chinese partners to help accelerate its operation. In terms of tourism, I am hoping to boost tourism exchanges between our countries. In this regard, I reaffirm to you my strong desire to see our governments reach an air transport agreement. I also invite Chinese banks to set up operations in Gabon or to acquire shares in existing banks.”
Ondimba concluded the state visit in Guangdong Province, which thanks to its special economic zones, has the 15th highest GDP in the world. During a direct exchange with Governor Zhu Xiaodan, the president invited Chinese businesses to come and work in Gabon, in particular in the local processing of raw materials, and reiterated the willingness of Gabon to accommodate a special economic zone dedicated to Chinese businesses.
— Dec 13, 2016 @ 16:55 GMT