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March 12, 2009

Angola gets new billion-dollar agro-loan from China

Angola has secured another billion-dollar (783 million euros) loan from China, to be spent on developing its agricultural sector.

The southern African country has already received at least five billion dollars in credit from China to pay for its post-war reconstruction, but the World Bank believes up to eight billion dollars more has not been publicised.

Chen Yuan, CEO of the China Development Bank, announced the latest finance deal late Thursday after a meeting with Angola's President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos in Luanda, the state news agency Angop reported.

"We are ready to grant a line of credit of more than a billion dollars but we think the amount could be insufficient and it may be increased to meet the needs of Angola's agriculture, cereal production and processing of agricultural product," Chen said, according to Angop.

The China Development Bank is one of the country's largest, and is one of three policy lenders charged with supporting Beijing's government programmes.

Chen added that he had full confidence in the Angolan government and there were very good prospects for co-operation.

Trade between the two countries was at 25.3 billion dollars in 2008, and Angola is now China's biggest African trade partner.

Angola, a former Portuguese colony, was a key agricultural producer in the 1950s and 1960s, but millions of farmers left their land during the decades of war that left the soil littered with landmines. Most food is now imported.

The government, which relies on oil and diamonds for more than 90 percent of its income, is suffering amid the global slowdown and is investing in areas like agriculture in a bid to diversify the economy.


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