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May 26, 2017

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Arab, Chinese businesses seek to expand relations

Hundreds of Arab and Chinese businessmen gathered Monday in Jordan for a two-day conference to mull ways of bolstering trade between them, state-run Petra news agency said.

The meeting was the first to be hosted by an Arab country since businessmen from China and the 22-member Arab League first gathered in Beijing in 2005, the agency said. "Arab-Chinese ties are strong and deeply rooted in history and based on mutual respect," Jordanian Deputy Prime Minister Ziad Fariz told the opening session, expressing hope that relations will grow over the next few years.

"The volume of trade between China and the Arab countries in 2005 rose above the US$50 billion barrier, with Arab exports representing 56 percent of it," said Fariz, who also holds the finance portfolion.

He said "direct Chinese investment in Arab countries in 2005 stood at around half a billion dollars" while Arab countries financed projects in China that same year worth more than US$1.5 billion.

A ministerial forum grouping officials from China and the Arab League pledged last year in Beijing to target the energy sector as they seek to double bilateral trade by 2010.

At the time the China-Arab Cooperation Forum said in a statement outlining its plans for 2006-2008, that it would seek to expand ties in the sectors of oil, renewable energy and natural gas.

Fifty-eight percent of China's oil imports currently come from the Middle East, according to the Washington-based Institute for the Analysis of Global Security.

Meanwhile on the sidelines of the forum, a Chinese firm is expected to sign an agreement Tuesday with a Jordanian company to set up a private car assembly and manufacturing plant in Jordan.

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