China to import $300 billion products, promote Chinese investment in Africa
Health care, green energy, digital infrastructure to be enhanced
Published: Nov 29, 2021 11:18 PM
China Africa Photo: Xinhua

China Africa Photo: Xinhua

Chinese President Xi Jinping announced new major measures on cooperation with Africa on Monday, charting a course for strengthened economic ties between China and the African continent, while also giving a timely, comprehensive response to the continent's most urgent needs in fighting the pandemic and reviving the economy.

The measures were announced at the opening ceremony of the Eighth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). President Xi attended the forum via video link on Monday evening (Beijing time) and made a keynote speech.

China will work with African countries in areas ranging from health, poverty alleviation, to trade promotion, investment-driven projects and green development.

In particular, China will help Africa implement 10 poverty reduction and agricultural projects, send 500 agricultural experts to Africa, establish a "green channel" for African agricultural products to be exported to China, further expand the scope of zero-tariff treatment products from the least-developed countries that have diplomatic relations with China, and strive to achieve a total import volume of $300 billion in products from Africa in the next three years.

Trade between China and Africa has been continuously climbing despite the virus. Customs data showed that from January to October this year, China's trade with Africa was 1.34 trillion yuan ($209.8 billion), an increase of 27.4 percent over the same period of 2020. 

Imports from Africa were 558.14 billion yuan, an increase of 31.7 percent.

In 2018, agricultural trade between China and Africa reached $6.92 billion, according to a report from the Xinhua News Agency.

In the next three years, China will also promote the total investment of Chinese enterprises in Africa at no less than $10 billion. China will assist Africa in implementing 10 industrialization and employment promotion projects, and provide African financial institutions with a credit line of $10 billion.

From the economic perspective, President Xi called for deepened cooperation between the two, including expanding the scale of trade and investment, sharing experience in poverty alleviation, and strengthening cooperation in the digital economy.

Observers said that the projects which China proposed emphasize the comprehensive use of investment, trade and aid to support the continent's poverty reduction and economic development in Africa.

China's proposal of building more investment-driven projects in Africa is a direct response to the development needs of Africa after the pandemic, Song Wei, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, told the Global Times on Monday.

The funding demand for Africa's development will grow, but at the same time, the debt pressure of the continent will also grow, while investment-driven projects would be an ideal solution to the problem, Song said, noting that China will continue to support infrastructure construction in Africa.

China's support and cooperation with the African continent has been maintained in recent years.

Jiang Hui, secretary general of the Alliance of Chinese Business in Africa for Social Responsibilities (ACBASR), told the Global Times on Monday that ZTE provided South African operators with the first batch of 5G networks and updated more than 1,500 telecommunication sites for free during the outbreak of COVID-19. 

In March 2020, PowerChina undertook relief work for flood-hit Kenya by evacuating communities, repairing roads and ensuring water supply.

"These are vivid examples of the sincerity and affinity of China-Africa friendship," said Jiang.

Chinese firms have also been eying more opportunities in Africa in various areas, including green projects.

The Caculo Cabaça hydropower station in Angola, built by China Energy Engineering Group Co (Energy China Group), one of the largest hydropower stations under construction in Africa, is one of the examples.

Africa is rich in water resource, solar power and wind resource. Most part of Africa has sufficient sunlight. It accounts for 30 percent of the world's wind resources. Natural resources and the huge demand leave huge space for Africa to develop, Song Hailiang, chairman of Energy China Group, told the Global Times on Monday.