70% of China’s pledged $60 billion financial support to Africa is already in use or provisioned

By Chu Daye Source: Global Times Published: 2020/12/10 20:33:40

Nearly 200 delegates attend the 14th Senior Officials Meeting of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) held in Beijing on Thursday. Photo: Chu Daye/GT

China's cooperation with African is broadening despite the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, and both sides see an increasing necessity for cooperation in the post-virus era, Chinese and African officials said at a forum on Thursday.

Deng Li, assistant minister of foreign affairs, said at the 14th Senior Officials Meeting of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) held in Beijing that 70 percent of the $60 billion of China's pledged financial support to Africa at the Beijing Summit of the FOCAC is already in use or provisioned, showing that China-Africa cooperation has not been stopped by the pandemic. 

China is on track to become the largest trading partner of Africa for the 12th consecutive year in 2020, as bilateral trade reached $150 billion in the first 10 months of this year, Deng said.

The meeting was held to review the implementation of the follow-up actions of the Beijing Summit of the FOCAC. At the Beijing Summit of FOCAC, held in September 2018, an eight-point approach was laid out to boost trade, investment and green investment between China and Africa.

African countries showed great support to China when the virus was first reported last winter. And, when China put the virus under control with strict measures and it then struck African countries, China lent its support.

Amid the ruthless economic impact of the coronavirus and rising global protectionist headwind, the importance of China-Africa relations is more, not less, and mutual confidence is stronger, not weaker, said Qian Keming, vice minister of commerce at the forum.

Nearly 200 African diplomats from 54 countries and Chinese officials from related government departments took part in the meeting.

In the past months, the pandemic has been sort of an obstacle to progress, said Baba Ahmad Jidda, ambassador of Nigeria to China.

It has been very difficult for African government officials to visit financial institutions in China to discuss the release of funds, and African economies have been badly hit by the virus, the Nigerian ambassador told the Global Times on Thursday.

He Wenping, a research fellow of the Institute of West-Asian and African Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Thursday that the pandemic has affected many projects in Africa, and timely high-level meetings and communication between officials from China and African countries would keep all interested parties updated.

The positive side is, via the implementation of green channels, some of the projects are already gradually getting back on track, He said.

In addition to securing more financial support, issues such as jointly fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, the provision of China-made vaccines, rebalancing of bilateral trade and seeking joint development possibilities under the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative and Africa Continental Free Trade Zone (AfCFTA) were also discussed.

The AfCFTA, signed by 54 African countries, will enter into force on January 1, and it will form a market of more than 1.2 billion with a combined GDP of $2.5 trillion, according to media reports.

"With Africa being very close to China, we want China to take advantage of this new continental trade body," Ambassador Jidda said.

In 2019, China's trade with Africa reached $208.7 billion, 20 times the figure in 2000, when the FOCAC was first conceived.

Newspaper headline: China-Africa cooperation gaining importance in post-virus world


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