The future for China, Africa ties is promisingBy CHEN DEMING | Friday, July 20 2012 at 14:26
In Malawi, a landlocked African country, rows of cotton cultivated by local farmers with instruction from Chinese experts are budding; in Ethiopia, a shoe factory built with investment from the China-Africa Development Fund is teeming with local workers; in the DRC, a hydropower station financed by credit from China has just been inaugurated.
In the meantime, in China, a country tens of thousands of miles away, African officials and technicians have been invited to Beijing to share China’s development experience and advanced technology; in Yiwu, a city in East China, Chinese customers are selecting South African wine at the Exhibition Centre for African Products; at the New Port of Tianjin, a cargo ship loaded with fruit and textile products from Benin is preparing for tariff exemption procedures to enter the Chinese market.
These are the encouraging scenes unfolding before us as China fulfills its commitments on economic cooperation and trade announced at the Fourth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in 2009. At the meeting, which was held amid the rampaging financial crisis, the Chinese government announced eight new measures to advance its practical cooperation with Africa, including development assistance, credit financing, training and trade promotion. This speaks volumes of the determination of China and Africa to weather the challenging times hand in hand. Steered by FOCAC and stimulated by these promotion measures, the two sides have withstood the test of the financial crisis. As a result, the trade and economic cooperation has witnessed faster growth across wider areas in more diversified forms, bringing more tangible benefits to the Chinese and African people.
In terms of trade, the total trade volume between China and Africa hit a record high of $166.3 billion in 2011, growing by 83 per cent from 2009. China stands as the unchallenged largest trading partner of Africa. On the back of robust trade, Chinese goods, in greater quantity and with better quality, are welcomed by African people; more and more African specialty goods have been made available to Chinese consumers.
With respect to investment, China’s direct investment in Africa had reached $14.7 billion by the end of 2011, up 60 per cent from 2009. While the number of investment projects in energy, mining, construction and manufacturing keeps growing, collaboration on finance, aviation, agriculture and tourism has also boomed. More than 2,000 Chinese companies have invested in Africa. In the area of project contracting, Africa has become China’s second largest overseas market. The inflow of capital, equipment and technology from China has helped cut cost and steadily improve infrastructure in African countries.
In terms of development assistance, China increased its aid to Africa by more than 60 per cent from 2009 to 2011. China built a large number of welfare projects, including schools, water supply and clean energy projects, and trained more than 20,000 personnel in various fields for Africa over the three year period.
Against the backdrop of sluggish world economic recovery and difficulties in reshaping the global economic governance regime, China and Africa face unprecedented challenges in their next step of development.
Nevertheless, as developing countries, China and African countries have all managed to keep relatively fast economic growth. Adequate capital, a strong industrial basis, and sophisticated technologies and equipment of China can be seamlessly matched with Africa’s advantages in resources, markets and labour costs. As China and Africa both need to restructure our economies and transform our growth patterns, there is a pressing need and great potential for the two sides to collaborate on industrial relocation. In the reform of the global economic governance system, both sides are committed to the principle of active engagement, cooperation and solidarity. China and Africa are spotting greater opportunities in our economic cooperation.
The Fifth Ministerial Conference of the FOCAC will surely usher in a new era of China-Africa trade and economic cooperation. The two sides will work together to tackle external challenges and inject new vitality to the intensified South-South cooperation.
Twelve years ago, China and African countries together launched the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, which unveiled a brand new page in China-Africa trade and economic cooperation. Today, China will continue working with African countries to consolidate the forum’s achievements, seize development opportunities, identify breakthrough points for mutually beneficial and win-win cooperation, promote the comprehensive, coordinated and sustainable development of China-Africa trade and economic cooperation, further substantiate the new type of China-Africa strategic partnership, and contribute to the economic development of both China and African countries as well as global economic recovery.
Chen Deming is the Minister of Commerce of China and the honorary co-chair of the Chinese Follow-up Committee of the FOCAC.
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