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It's full steam ahead for China-Africa trade flows

By OTIATO OPALI | China Daily Global | Updated: 2022-09-02 09:42
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Fresh avocados from Kenya are seen in this file photo. [Photo/VCG]

On Aug 23, a ceremony in Beijing commemorating the arrival of the first batch of avocados from Kenya also serves as a launchpad to welcome more African produce into the vast Chinese market. This follows the arrival of some 20 metric tons of fresh Hass avocados from smallholder Kenyan farmers in Shanghai on Aug 2.

That same day, the China-Africa Business Council released a report on China's investments in African countries and said the two sides have made great strides in all-around, multilevel and wide-ranging cooperation over the past 22 years. The report showed that Chinese companies are committed to investing in Africa's supply chain.

Humphrey Moshi, director of the Center for Chinese Studies at the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, said China's rise as one of Africa's leading trade partners is owed to the fact that China's investment portfolio in Africa is very diversified, covering a broad range of sectors.

"In assessing the feasibility of China's trade trajectory in Africa, we note that China does not apply the narrow Western assessment criterion of economic viability alone, but a much broader and more comprehensive criterion of socioeconomic development," Moshi said.

He added that the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation has been instrumental in driving the rise of trade between Africa and China and is a continuation of China-Africa friendship, which provides a guarantee for high-level China-Africa relations in the new century.

Since 2000, China-Africa cooperation has yielded more fruitful results under the FOCAC, he said. Based on recently released data by China's customs agency, the value of trade between Africa and China rose by 35 percent from 2020 to $254 billion last year, Moshi said. He also said that despite difficulties like the COVID-19 pandemic which slowed down trade globally, China and Africa have made encouraging progress in discussing practical measures to tackle the pandemic and restore economic development under the framework of the FOCAC.

"This once again shows that China-Africa cooperation has been moving in the right direction and has made solid efforts to help Africa achieve sustainable development. In due course, this mutually beneficial approach to trade by China is set to make it Africa's largest trading partner," Moshi said.

A recently released report, titled "A new horizon for Africa-China relations", by global research firm Economic Intelligence Unit said China is on track to overtake the European Union as Africa's biggest trade partner by 2030.

West's reputation worsens

"In recent years, the West's already fragile reputation in Africa has worsened. The only Western institution still properly active seems to be the IMF, while China on the other hand has, broadly speaking, kept up its commercial operations," the report said.

Stephen Ndegwa, executive director of think tank South-South Dialogues in Nairobi, said it is now almost impossible to separate China and Africa economically.

"It is important to monitor how Chinese enterprises will play a crucial role in the growth of the African Continental Free Trade Area, the continental trading bloc that was launched in January 2021," Ndegwa said.

"It is expected that Chinese enterprises will plug into the vast business opportunities that AfCFTA offers. China can also use this platform to explore the massive untapped potential in the continent's services sector."

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