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China stands ready to deepen trade ties with Ethiopia: Chinese minister

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ADDIS ABABA, May 5 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's visit to Ethiopia is conducive to boosting cooperation, unity and common development between China and Ethiopia, Chinese Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng said here Monday.

"The China-Ethiopia relationship has been developing in the fast lane in recent years, and particularly, the bilateral economic and trade cooperation enjoys a strong momentum with remarkable achievements, setting an example for China-African cooperations," Gao said in an interview with Xinhua during Li's visit.

"In the past decade, the bilateral trade volume witnessed an averaged annual growth of 20 percent and reached 2.19 billion U.S. dollars last year," said the minister.

By the end of 2013, China's direct investment to Ethiopia had reached 720 million U.S. dollars, with total value of contracted projects by Chinese companies in the African country reaching 22.4 billion, said Gao.

"China has been Ethiopia's largest trading partner, leading foreign investor and contractor for years," he told Xinhua.

Chinese companies not only transferred advanced and pragmatic technologies into Ethiopia, but also created over 5,000 jobs for its people, said the minister, adding they have actively fulfilled their social responsibilities by digging wells, building roads and funding public health for the local people.

"China helped Ethiopia to build its first wind power plant and highway, and now is assisting the construction of its first light-rail and cross-border railway," said Gao.

Against this backdrop, Premier Li's visit would lift bilateral ties to a new height, said the minister, vowing to work together with the Ethiopian side to further deepen their economic and trade cooperation.

Li arrived here Sunday for a visit to the East African country, during which he also visited the African Union headquarters and delivered a speech there to expound on China's Africa policy.

Ethiopia is the first leg of Li's four-nation tour, his first to the African continent since he took over the Chinese premiership in March last year. He will also visit Nigeria, Angola and Kenya.

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