MASERU — China’s ambassador to Lesotho, Hu Dingxian, has urged Lesotho to diversify its products and take the opportunity to boost its exports to China’s wide markets.
Addressing journalists at the New Year’s gathering on Tuesday, Hu said in the next five years from last year when the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China was held, its “imports will exceed US$8 trillion (M69.144 trillion) and its outbound investment will reach US$500 billion (M4.321 trillion).”
“This will provide us a good opportunity for further cooperation in various fields,” Hu said.
“China expanded its duty free treatment to Lesotho up to products corresponding to 95 percent of the tariff line,” he said.
“We are expecting to see more Basotho products on the Chinese market in the coming years.”
He added: “The key is to try our best to make the cake bigger and bigger, rather than to reduce it or even destroy it completely.”
Hu said it is only through sincere cooperation and joint efforts, by raising Lesotho’s productivity and enhancing development capability “could we be able to realise genuine and sustainable development”.
“It is therefore important for China and Lesotho to join efforts, to seize the opportunity in time, to tackle the challenges properly and to seek mutual benefit and common development.”
Pledging China’s readiness to work with Lesotho in 2013, Hu said: “We have been discussing with relevant ministries of Lesotho as how we could tailor new projects to the needs of Lesotho under the framework of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation”.
“We are working hard to explore new measures to help enhance the self-development capacity of Lesotho and increase the well-being of the Basotho people.”
Touching on the controversial issue of Chinese people opening small businesses in Lesotho and unfairly edging out Basotho, Hu said “there are good guys and bad guys” among the Chinese and it is wrong to conclude that all Chinese trading in Lesotho are bad.
“Yes, their doing business here might have increased competition, causing unfavourable impacts on some local businessmen, but at the same time they are creating more job opportunities, helping improve the investment environment, increasing the income of the local house-owners by paying regular rents, making their contribution to the government treasury by paying taxes, providing better services and reducing the cost of living for the local people,” he said.
“It is estimated that about 50 000 Basotho have been employed by Chinese companies or businessmen,” he said.
“China is helping create jobs and alleviate poverty in Lesotho, contributing to the social and economic development of Lesotho.
“This is an undeniable fact,” he said.
Hu said China-Lesotho cooperation is not perfect and so “it is only natural that new circumstances and new issues are bound to emerge as our cooperation deepens”.
He said these are problems in the process of development and they do not reflect China’s policy.
“The China-Lesotho partnership is based on mutual respect, equality and mutual benefits and has brought tangible benefits to the Basotho people.”