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China, Ghana Boost Trade Agreements

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, on a five-day tour of seven African countries, has witnessed the signing of seven new bilateral agreements on economic and technological cooperation between his country and Ghana, where he is making a two-day stopover.

It was one of the $66 million in new bilateral agreements with Ghana. The signings come as China continues to expand its trade interest in Africa.

The agreements signed in Accra cover economic and technological cooperation between the two countries, including a $30 million concessional loan to enhance Ghana's information communication technology.

Other agreements involved interest free loans to Ghana, donation of anti-malaria medicines, and a $28 million road project.

An additional $70 million commercial loan was advanced to Ghana Telecom for the expansion of the company's mobile network and fixed lines.

Ghana's Finance Minister, Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, told journalists that China, India, and Iran have all expressed interest in buying cocoa directly from Ghana.

Baah-Wirdu says Ghana is carefully considering the proposals.

"Currently they have to go through the International Cocoa Organization and they believe it is too circuitous, so they prefer buying directly from Ghana," he said. "We have not concluded those arrangements yet because Ghana's interest must be taken into consideration, thus having a stable market for 20 years, 30 years, so that when you are exporting to that area, you know what you are doing."

China is one of Ghana's largest foreign investors. Recent figures from the Ghana Investment Promotion Center show China leading India and former colonial ruler Britain in investments in Ghana.

Mr. Wen's visit, which includes a high-powered government delegation, is the first in 42 years by a Chinese prime minister. Ghana says the visit is a show of confidence in its economy.

The Chinese prime minister is also visiting Congo, Angola, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda.