The Sierra Leone-China Foundation has facilitated a China Forum to discuss China-Sierra Leone trade and economic cooperation from a reciprocal perspective. Held in Freetown, capital of Sierra Leone, the event brought together Sierra Leonean officials, international experts, organizations, the media and business community stakeholders from both countries.
With the theme of “Work together with Chinese Investment to Achieve Common Development and Build a Shared Future in Sierra Leone,” the event echoed President Xi Jinping’s vision of building a China-Africa community with a shared future that pursues win-win cooperation, a message that was highlighted throughout the FOCAC Beijing Summit this year.
Speakers praised the Chinese government and people for their relentless support to Sierra Leone and underscored the importance of attracting more Chinese investment to the West African nation for greater economic development.
Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Sierra Leone, His Excellency Ambassador Wu Peng, said with the government’s commitment to fight against corruption and diversify the economy, he believes that Sierra Leone’s business environment will continue to improve.
In line with the H.E. President Bio’s development priority, I have spent time and effort encouraging Chinese enterprises to invest in the agricultural sector, to help master planting methods and increase food yield in Sierra Leone,” he said, adding that Sierra Leone has advantageous natural conditions and rich resources. “Managed by good governance, the people of Sierra Leone can achieve food self-sufficiency and independent development,” the Chinese Ambassador explained.
In recent years, China-Sierra Leone relations have enjoyed a sound momentum of development in various fields, and China is one of the country’s most important trading partners. In 2017, the bilateral trade volume between China and Sierra Leone reached 580 million US dollars, of which China exported 240 million US dollars and imported 340 million US dollars. Today, more than 3,000 Chinese people work in Sierra Leone, providing convenience to the daily life of local people and offering many job opportunities. At the same time, private investments have seen a steady increase, with small-scale and medium-sized enterprises injecting vitality into local communities and offering daily necessities at an affordable price.
“A shared prosperous future cannot be achieved without respect for rules of law. As I always highlight in meetings with the Chinese business community in Sierra Leone, abiding by the local laws and regulations is the very first step. Only by following the rules can a company obtain long-term development,” Ambassador Wu told the 2018 China Forum. He said that to help regulate Chinese companies operating in Sierra Leone and encourage them to fulfill their social responsibility, his embassy was working closely with the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, Sierra Leone Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Sierra Leonean Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to disseminate related laws and regulations.
The Ambassador noted that his embassy has also demanded that Chinese business people must register in the embassy upon their arrival in Sierra Leone. “I believe with the joint efforts of all of us, the Chinese business community’s presence in Sierra Leone will be welcomed by all, which in turn will help them to achieve even greater success,” he noted.
China, he revealed, is marching on the path toward common development, and follows the principles of sincerity, real results, amity, good faith and shared interests. “It is for this reason that China has won friends in Africa and around the world,” he said.
During President Maada Bio’s state visit to China this year, China and Sierra Leone signed an MOU on the Belt and Road Initiative, from which both countries will benefit and harvest fruitful results of win-win cooperation.
“A prosperous future of Sierra Leone can be achieved with the joint effort of its people. I wish this forum today a complete success, and I wish you all a fruitful harvest,” Ambassador Wu concluded.
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