China-Africa agriculture, infrastructure cooperation to be strengthened: experts
Trade pacts promote China-Africa farm, infrastructure deals
Published: Jan 05, 2021 10:36 PM



China and African countries will welcome new cooperation opportunities, as bilateral trade is strengthened under new free trade agreement, especially in the farm and infrastructure areas, according to experts.  

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi was set to depart on Monday for his first official trip of the year to five African countries - Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Botswana, Tanzania and Seychelles - in line with a tradition since 1991, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Monday.

Since 1991, Africa has been the destination for Chinese foreign ministers' first overseas visit each year.

China is an important partner of African countries in terms of agricultural trade, and China has been working to extend Africa's industry chain to add value to primary agricultural products, Song Wei, an associate research fellow at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, told the Global Times on Tuesday. 

"There are still some imbalances in bilateral trade between China and African countries, but China is introducing more policies to encourage more imports from Africa," Song said. 

The free trade agreement (FTA) between China and an African country Mauritius came into effect on the first day of the year. Some of the least-developed countries in Africa also enjoy zero tariffs for most of their products that are exported to China, according to China's Ministry of Commerce.

"China's FTA with Mauritius, and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), will bring new opportunities to the relationship between China and Africa," Hua said on Tuesday.

"Agricultural trade with Africa not only represents development opportunities for African countries, but also has huge potential to strengthen food security and diversify food sources for China," Song said. 

China's State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi

 In October, Tanzania became the second African country to supply soybeans to China after Ethiopia, amid rising uncertainties around soybean supplies from the US. 

"Africa has rich soil and vast plains for agricultural production," Song said. "China has launched agricultural technology development centers to help increase agricultural production. There is a possibility that African food can take up a bigger share in the future and replace some of China's current sources." 

China has also been an important partner of Africa in improving its infrastructure. Despite the impact of COVID-19 in 2020, Chinese companies remain a strong force in building Africa's infrastructure. According to a statement from China Communications Construction Co, it has been building railways, ports, airports and bridges in almost 40 African countries. 

China Railway Construction Corp (CRCC) has been constructing infrastructure projects in countries including Algeria and Angola. In 2020, it signed two new project contracts with Ghana, which will start to be implemented in the coming years. Also, China Tiesiju Civil Engineering Group told the Global Times that it will strengthen its investment in Ethiopia, Angola and Mozambique.

Along with the fast pace of infrastructure development, there are unprecedented economic opportunities for African countries. In 2019, national road 120 - built by CRCC in Angola - reduced the travel time between Luanda, capital of Angola and Huambo by four hours.