Monday, March 02, 2009

Angola and Germany Discuss Oil, Trade, and Cultural Ties

BERLIN 27 February 2009 Sapa-dpa


The Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos described relations with Germany as a "win-win situation" following a meeting in Berlin with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday.

Merkel echoed the sentiment saying, "Angola has an interest in diversifying its economic relations, so as not to depend purely on its natural resources," while "Germany naturally has an interest in building its relations with a resource-rich country."

Angola is one of Africa's most important oil exporters, with a daily production rate of 2 million barrels. Primary recipients are China and the United States. Dos Santos said Angola was not spared by the global economic crisis, which was negatively impacting the price of the country's natural resources.

"Our biggest worry is the drop in revenue in the state budget, as a result of the drop in prices in the sale of petroleum and diamonds," the Angolan president said.

This, he said, had a negative impact on public investment programmes the country had planned, but now lacked adequate financial means to carry out.

Dos Santos said Germany had agreed to "make funds available so the required financial flow for public investments in particular could advance."

In addition, he said, Angola was keen to advertise the country's open market, where "private investors can equally find good opportunities for their projects."

Merkel in turn stressed the need to continue investing in developing countries, despite current economic hardships.

"We know that, if people in Africa have no perspective, we will have to deal with violent confrontations and refugee movements," Merkel said, adding that it was prudent to keep the investments flowing, from an African as well as a European perspective.

A German-Angolan business summit also took place Friday, where Santos will met with German Economics Minister, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, to discuss economic ties between the two countries.

Merkel also announced a cultural agreement between the two
countries, to promote the German language and bilateral ties
originating from a legacy of allegiance with the former East German state (GDR).

The chancellor said, "we have a good relationship, as a result of Angolans who came to the GDR for their education and in part also to work."

"Many Angolans, living in Angola, now know the German language and culture," Merkel added.

The agreement includes plans to open a branch of Germany's cultural ambassador, the Goethe Institute, in Angola.

Merkel also expressed Germany's interest in the continued growth of democracy in Angola, in light of parliamentary elections in 2008 and presidential elections due in 2009.

"We wish Angola success, especially in the improvement of the living conditions of people in Angola," Merkel said.

Despite the country's oil wealth, the majority of Angola's 17
million inhabitants survive on less than one dollar (0.78 euros) a day.

Destitution, buried landmines and a devastated road network are the legacy of a 27-year civil war which ended, with nearly half a million dead, in 2002.

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