China-Africa economic, trade cooperation forges ahead

China Ambassador to Tanzania Wang Ke and the Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner, Abubakar Kunenge, when China donated Sh30m-worth of hospital materials. PHOTO | file

By Ye Lu

It has always been an important cornerstone of China’s independent foreign policy of peace and one of China’s long-term and firm strategic choices to strengthen the unity and cooperation with African countries.

No matter how the international vicissitude changes, China always stands wholeheartedly by the side of African countries and join hands together with them to keep pushing China-Africa relationship into a new depth.

Since 2020, due to the rapid explosion of Covid-19, huge reduction in the price of bulk commodities, acceleration in the reconstruction of international industrial chains and other factors, the economic and social development in Africa has encountered many challenges and China-Africa economic and trade cooperation has also been affected.

The partnership between China and Africa came in handy when China was in the hardest moment in its fight against Covid-19. African countries offered valuable support and when the pandemic erupted in Africa, China was at hand providing urgent anti-pandemic supplies to almost all African countries and African Union.

It dispatched medical teams to 16 African countries, organized six anti-pandemic video conferences between Chinese and African medical experts and built counterpart cooperation mechanisms with 46 hospitals in 42 countries.

As Africa’s major trading partner, China is among countries whose trade with Africa experienced the lowest decrease in absolute terms. In this sense, China has adopted positive measures and taken the initiative to expand its imports from Africa.

By speeding up the access review and approval procedures of agricultural products, forage sorghum in Nigeria, fresh blueberry in Zambia, soybean in Tanzania and other products have been approved to access the Chinese market.

China attaches great importance to the challenges caused by Covid-19 to African countries and is actively implementing the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI). At present, China ranks first among G20 member countries who have carried out DSSI by suspending $1353 million worth of debt service payments from 23 countries, including $817 million from 15 African countries. China and Tanzania have signed the DSSI agreement for 2020 and are now discussing the debt service suspension by June 2021.

China and Africa have long been in the inseparable and shared community of interests and future. A series of measures announced at previous conferences have pushed forward the China-Africa economic and trade cooperation to develop by leaps and bounds which have benefited people in both China and Africa.

The level of trade has improved significantly. During the past 20 years, China-Africa trade has increased by 20 times. In 2019, the trade volume between China and Africa has reached $208.7 billion, up by 2.2 percent against the general trend, ranking first among Africa’s main trading partners. China has been Africa’s largest trading partner for 11 consecutive years. During the past 3 years, China’s import of agricultural goods from Africa has been increasing at an annual average rate of 14 percent. At present, China has become Africa’s second largest importer of agricultural goods and more than 350 types of agricultural goods and food can now be imported into China.

Industrial investment has been further integrated. Since 2003, China’s direct investment in Africa has been increasing at an annual average rate of over 25 percent. According to the World Investment Report 2020 by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, from 2014 to 2018, China’s stock of investment in Africa has been increasing by over 40 percent.

By the end of 2019, China has set up more than 3,800 companies of various types in Africa with a total stock of investment of $44.4 billion, which has offered great help to Africa in improving its industrialization level, industrial supporting capacity and the capacity to earn foreign exchange through exports.

The integration of African countries is speeding up significantly with emerging industries flourishing and China-Africa cooperation facing broad development prospects. China is eying a blueprint for China-Africa cooperation from a strategic and long-term perspective with a view to solidifying the foundation for cooperation by joining forces to improve the level of engagement.

The author is a current affairs commentator and filed this piece from Beijing, China