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China, Africa Sign Nearly $2 Billion in Trade Agreements

Officials in Beijing say Chinese and African firms have signed trade agreements worth nearly two billion dollars, further strengthening China's ties to the resource-rich continent.

The agreements were announced Sunday near the end of a two-day summit involving top officials from almost every African nation. The agreements include 16 separate deals between Chinese companies in 12 African nations.

Trade between China and Africa's 53 countries has skyrocketed in the past decade and is expected to reach 50 billion dollars this year.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao says China's outreach to Africa is sincere, unselfish and has no political conditions attached.

Some labor groups in Africa have criticized the relationship. They say Chinese companies treat workers poorly and flood local markets with low-cost manufactured goods. Humanitarian groups also have accused China of selling arms to repressive governments.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan praised China Saturday for offering billions of dollars in aid and loans to the largely impoverished continent.

Chinese President Hu Jintao has pledged to double aid to Africa, and he has offered the continent five billion dollars in loans and credits over the next three years.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.