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Standard Chartered launches China-Africa network

Standard Chartered has reiterated its support for assisting the growth of trade corridors between Botswana and China by launching its SME China-Africa Network.

Speaking during the launch, which was held in Gaborone last week, Michael Wiegand, Head of Consumer Banking Botswana and cluster Head Southern Africa, said: "Many African and Chinese SMEs have a clear understanding of the economic opportunities in both regions and a significant number clearly recognize the importance of continuing to build their trade and investment links with Chinese and African businesses."

"Standard Chartered has a deep local knowledge of both Africa and China, and will continue to provide the necessary financial tools and strategic advice to African SMEs doing business in China and Chinese SMEs in Africa- assisting economic development in both regions."

SME China Africa Network will provide Chinese-owned SMEs in Africa with unique banking services. It will provide personalized service from dedicated Chinese-speaking Relationship Managers, access to branches in China for cross-border account opening, cost-savings and highly competitive trade services and cash management solutions.

When officially launching the Standard Chartered Bank SME-China Africa Network, the Assistant Minister of Trade and Industry Duke Lefhoko, who was the guest speaker at the event, stated that: "Botswana and China have had diplomatic relations since as far back as 1975. A strong and mutual relationship is vital in strengthening, promoting and improving trade links between Botswana and China for the economic growth of both countries. "

Lefhoko also indicated that the initiative will further improve the business environment between Botswana and China and emphasized the commitment of his Ministry to remove any administrative and regulatory business barriers through a comprehensive review of its various pieces of legislation.

The Chinese Ambassador, Mr. Liu Huanxing noted: Africa and China have been engaged and cooperating in many trade and economic developments, which have been getting stronger, broader, and better. China has a positive attitude towards African trade. China is in a trade relationship with around 53 countries. China's merchandise and products have continued to be cheap for the communities in Africa, and hence continue to fit the African market and consumer status. Likewise, African products are slowly but surely becoming common in the Chinese markets, thus leading to the economic development of the two regions.

The ambassador further noted that the Chinese government has been encouraging potential, profitable and outstanding Chinese companies to come and invest in Botswana. This year alone, he said, in the midst of global economic recession, the level of foreign investment has gone down, but the rate of Chinese investment in Africa has risen tremendously.

Standard Chartered Bank has always been a partner in the facilitation to trade between China and Africa, given their long history in both places. This new SME China-Africa Network will go a long way in enhancing the business existing relationship.

The event attracted close to 100 Chinese SMEs doing businesses in Botswana.

(16 September 2009, Mmegi)

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