Minister of Commerce Gao Hucheng said on Monday that the Forum for Trade and Economic Co-operation between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries had achieved “remarkable” results and that co-operation would be taken to a new level as the forum heads into its 14th year.
Gao made the remarks in a speech at the welcome dinner last night at the Macau Dome for the 5th Ministerial Conference of the Forum for Economic and Trade Co-operation between China and Portuguese-speaking countries, which officially opens this Tuesday morning.
Premier Li Keqiang, who heads the delegation, did not attend the dinner which was attended by about 700 people including members of the delegations participating in the forum, local government officials and members of the Executive Council and Legislative Assembly.
Gao said that since 2003, the forum has opened up many different forms of co-operation as well as bilateral understanding of the Chinese and Portuguese languages and cultures.
According to Gao, since its establishment in 2003 the eight-nation forum has boosted two-way trade eightfold and two-way investment fivefold, with “remarkable” results in infrastructure, cultural exchanges, science and technology, financial services and health care.
Gao pointed out the fact that more Chinese are learning Portuguese and more people in Portuguese-speaking countries are learning Chinese can be attributed to the close co-operation and participation of the countries in the forum.
Gao said that as the global economy is going through a profound restructuring process, seeking mutually beneficial co-operation between China and Portuguese-speaking countries was a part of the forum’s mission to make new achievements.
Gao added that as the forum is heading into its 14th year, there are even brighter prospects ahead, adding that co-operation between China and Portuguese-speaking countries would be taken to new levels.
Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai On said in his speech at the dinner that as the country’s Belt and Road Initiative complements the goals of the forum, countries participating in the forum could make use of the opportunities opened up by the initiative to deepen communication and step on the path of peaceful co-operation and mutual benefits.
The forum comprises China and seven of the world’s eight Portuguese-speaking countries: Angola, Brazil, Cabo Verde, Guinea Bissau, Mozambique, Portugal and Timor-Leste.
Observers expect São Tomé and Principe to join the forum soon after opening diplomatic relations with Beijing. Currently, the tiny Atlantic island nation maintains “official” ties with Taipei. Analysts say the diplomatic switch is not a matter of if but when.
The forum represents about 21 per cent of the world population, 1.38 billion in China (mainland, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau) and about 270 million in the eight Portuguese-speaking countries, 206 million in Brazil alone.