The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) has opened its first representative office in Africa to help strengthen its ties with the continent.

Standard Bank’s chief executive Jacko Maree says: “ICBC’s purchase of a 20% stake in Standard Bank was the largest Chinese investment in Africa and signalled ICBC’s clear commitment to Africa. We are working closely with ICBC to identify new business opportunities across the continent.”

According to Standard Chartered, China-Africa trade in 2010 reached US$126.9bn making it a year-on-year growth of 39.35%. Up to now, more than 1,600 Chinese companies have invested or started businesses in Africa, while in the first half of 2011, non-financial direct investment grew by 46.7% compared to last year.

The new office will be based in Cape Town.