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China Promises to Reduce Trade Imbalance with Africa


Chinese President Hu Jintao has promised to reduce China's trade imbalance with Africa by increasing imports and promoting Chinese investment in African industry. Correspondent Scott Bobb reports from Johannesburg that Mr. Hu made the remarks in South Africa, toward the end of an eight-nation visit to Africa.

Chinese President Hu Jintao says his government takes its $3 billion trade imbalance with Africa seriously. And, in a speech at the University of Pretoria, he pledged to take steps to address this issue.

Speaking through an interpreter, the Chinese president said his government would continue to promote economic growth in Africa.

"We encourage Chinese companies to increase investment in Africa, provide technical and management training and help Africa develop processing and manufacturing industries so as to ease employment pressure and enhance [the] competitiveness of its exports," he said.

Mr. Hu also pledged to work with South Africa and other countries to help bring peace to Sudan's Darfur region. And he said his government would donate $5 million to improve the lives of people there.

More than 200,000 people have died in the Darfur violence. China has been criticized for not using its close ties with oil-rich Sudan to pressure for an end to the bloodshed.

The Chinese leader spoke after meeting with South African President Thabo Mbeki and other senior leaders in the South African capital. During the visit, he also signed cooperation agreements in South Africa's mining, energy and agricultural sectors.

Trade between China and sub-Saharan Africa's largest economy reached $250 million in 2006, an increase of more than 30 percent over the previous year.

Mr. Mbeki thanked China for the support it has provided to African countries and the assistance it gave his government during South Africa's first months as a rotating member of the United Nations Security Council.

Mr. Hu is to visit Mozambique and Seychelles on Wednesday, the last stops on his eight-nation trip to Africa that also took him to Cameroon, Liberia, Sudan, Zambia and Namibia.

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