China, Africa see higher-level, broader economic and trade cooperation

(People's Daily Online) 17:32, October 09, 2021

China and Africa, as important trading partners for one another, have been witnessing a shift towards broader economic and trade cooperation, which is now taking place at a higher level, pointing to bright prospects moving forward.

An exhibitor introduces African skin care products to visitors at the second China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo held in Changsha, central China’s Hunan Province, Sept. 27. (Xinhua/Chen Zeguo)

The second China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo held in Changsha, central China’s Hunan province, from Sept. 26 to 29, is just the latest example of the thriving relationship between China and Africa in the area of economic and trade cooperation.

A total of 135 projects worth $22.9 billion were inked at the four-day event, which was held both online and offline to mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The expo attracted nearly 900 enterprises from nearly 40 African countries alongside China. First launched in 2019, the expo has become a major platform for strengthening economic and trade cooperation between China and African countries.

China-Africa economic and trade cooperation has continued expanding with steady momentum. Data from the Ministry of Commerce showed that trade between China and Africa hit a record high of $139.1 billion during the period from January to July this year, an increase of 40.5 percent compared with the same period last year. In particular, China’s imports from Africa climbed 46.3 percent year-on-year to reach $59.3 billion, while the country’s direct investment in Africa stood at $2.07 billion in the first seven months of the year, outperforming pre-pandemic levels for the same period in 2019.

Two-way trade has grown by 20-fold since 2000, and China has remained Africa’s largest trading partner for 12 consecutive years, according to the China-Africa Economic and Trade Relationship Annual Report (2021) released on Sept. 25. The China-Africa trade as a proportion of Africa’s total foreign trade has continued increasing year-on-year, having exceeded 21 percent in 2020, cited the report.

China’s private enterprises are becoming a significant force behind China-Africa trade and investment cooperation, according to a report on Chinese enterprises’ investments in the continent released by the China-Africa Business Council on Aug. 26.

In addition to traditional sectors, the report said Chinese enterprises are exploring and venturing into new areas such as medium- and high-tech manufacturing, healthcare, the digital economy and aviation industry.

China and Africa have built more and more platforms for bilateral cooperation and in a wider range of areas, pulling together Chinese and African national and local governments, enterprises, and academic circles, said Yang Baorong, an expert from the China-Africa Institute.

Yang noted that China and Africa share unique advantages when it comes to cooperation, including their mutual trust, highly complementary industrial structures, China’s provision of much-needed capital and technology supporting the continent’s growth, and new opportunities brought by the fourth industrial revolution.

Both sides have already explored cooperation in new sectors such as cross-border e-commerce, electronic settlements, big data and artificial intelligence, and they will continue to strengthen cooperation in the green industry as well, Yang explained.

Investment cooperation is a strong engine for the qualitative upgrading of pragmatic cooperation between China and African countries, said Wu Peng, Director-General of the Department of African Affairs of China’s Foreign Ministry.

Wu explained that China is one of the largest sources of investment for Africa. Since the establishment of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, the annual growth of China’s direct investment in Africa has averaged over 25 percent. Despite the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, China’s direct investment in Africa grew from $2.71 billion in 2019 to $2.96 billion in 2020.

The investments made by Chinese enterprises in Africa both advance China’s own economic development as well as offering capital, technology, and infrastructure support for African countries, helping these countries to translate their advantageous resources into improved market competitiveness, said Justin Yifu Lin, honorary dean of the National School of Development at Peking University.

Chinese enterprises have played an important role in modernizing Africa’s infrastructure, said Ethiopia’s ambassador to China, Teshome Toga Chanaka, noting that many major infrastructure projects have been kicked off in Ethiopia and other African countries under the Belt and Road framework.

Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa noted that China and Africa are seeing robust momentum towards furthering their cooperation. Chinese enterprises have continued investing in Africa despite the impacts of COVID-19, creating huge job opportunities for local communities, she said, adding that China-Africa cooperation has meanwhile always set its aim on maintaining sustainable development.

(Web editor: Hongyu, Liang Jun)


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