Bank of China sets up in Morocco

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A picture made available 22 June 2013 shows the Chinese national flag placed on the Great Wall of China at Mutianyu, outskirts of Beijing, China, 18 June 2013.

CASABLANCA - Bank of China has established a presence in Morocco that will further reinforce the Asian nation&39;s far-reaching influence in resource-rich Africa, officials said.

The commercial bank, one of the largest in China, inaugurated a representative office in the country&39;s economic capital, Casablanca, late on on Monday.

The move aims to support Chinese companies&39; development in French-speaking African nations, help African firms seeking closer business ties with China and participate in financing trade.

"Morocco enjoys an undeniable geostrategic location, political stability and an attractive business environment that makes it an ideal platform for investors," said Bank of China representative Kang Xiaolong.

Natural resources from Africa such as iron ore and oil have helped fuel China&39;s economic boom, and it became the continent&39;s largest trade partner in 2009.

But growth in the world&39;s second-largest economy has slowed to its lowest since the aftermath of the global financial crisis, hammering world prices for commodities -- the bedrock of African exports.

Chinese President Xi Jinping announced $60-billion of assistance and loans for Africa in December, signalling the country&39;s commitment to the continent despite a drop in Chinese direct investment.

Morocco is seeking to lure foreign investors with tax and other incentives under its Casablanca Finance City project that aims to be a gateway to North, West and Central Africa.