LUSA 07/10/2024

Lusa - Business News - Guinea-Bissau: President starts three-day China visit Wednesday

Beijing, July 9, 2024 (Lusa) - The president of Guinea-Bissau is visiting China on Wednesday. Infrastructure construction, agriculture, and fisheries will bring Beijing and Bissau closer together in a model of cooperation between the Asian country and developing nations.

China and Guinea-Bissau established diplomatic relations in 1974' but these were interrupted between 1990 and 1998. During this hiatus, the Guinean government recognised the Republic of China, or Taiwan, as a sovereign state, to the detriment of the People's Republic of China.

Among the infrastructures built in the African country with Chinese support are the National People's Assembly building, the seat of government, the Palace of Justice, the Presidential Palace and several hospitals.

Other works financed by China, also under the Chinese Belt and Road initiative, include the Buba, Catió, and Quebo roads, Cacine, a bridge over the Farim River, and a "large conference centre" for Guinea-Bissau's presidency of the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPLP), announced this week by Guinean President Umaro Sissoco Embaló before he left for Beijing, where he will begin a three-day state visit this Wednesday.

The two countries signed a memorandum of understanding on the Belt and Road in 2021.

Designated by Chinese President Xi Jinping as the "project of the century", the initiative was initially presented in Kazakhstan as a new economic corridor for Eurasia, inspired by the ancient Silk Road. In the last decade, however, the Belt and Road has acquired a global dimension, as more than 150 countries around the world have joined the programme.

The rapprochement between Beijing and the countries involved includes an increase in political consultations and cooperation in cyberspace, academia, the press, trade rules or monetary circulation agreements, with the aim of increasing the role of the Chinese currency, the yuan, in trade. The Belt and Road has also involved the founding of institutions that rival established agencies such as the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund.

In an article published by the official Chinese press, the Guinean ambassador in Beijing, António Serifo Embaló, highlighted the construction of the only road in Guinea-Bissau linking Osvaldo Vieira International Airport to the town of Safim, a project budgeted at 13.6 million euros.

"Chinese support exemplifies the commitment to implementing the Belt and Road Initiative (...) and lays a solid foundation for Guinea-Bissau's economic and social development, elevating the relationship between the two nations," said the diplomat.

Serifo Embaló highlighted the infrastructure, transport, electricity, mining, agriculture and healthcare sectors as priority areas for future collaboration and development.

On a business level, the fisheries sector has been an important focus of activity. Among the Chinese companies operating in the country is the China National Fisheries Corporation. The main Artisanal Fishing Porto in Bissau, which cost $26 million (€24 million), was also built by a Chinese state group as a donation.

Trade between the two countries is one-way: In 2023, China exported around $60 million (€55 million), mainly polished rice, portable communication stations and footwear, while Chinese imports totalled around $2,000 (€1,800), the main products being machine parts, according to Chinese customs data.

Umaro Sissoco Embaló's programme in China includes meetings with Xi Jinping and the Chinese Prime Minister, Li Qiang, and a visit to the state-owned Aluminum Corporation of China, based in Beijing. On Thursday, the Guinean head of state will travel to Shanghai, the economic "capital" of the Asian country, where he will meet with local government representatives, visit the Research Institute of the Chinese technology group Huawei and the university city of Songjiang.