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China-Africa economic links create impetus for recovery

By LIU ZHIHUA | China Daily Global | Updated: 2023-08-24 07:04

Visitors to the third China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo select products from Africa at the exhibition held in Changsha, Hunan province, in July. CHEN ZHENHAI/XINHUA

Trade and investment between China and Africa are strengthening and becoming more mature, and are proof of the successful building of a China-Africa community with a shared future, according to experts and business executives.

The ever-closer trade and economic relationship will also add more impetus to the global economic recovery, according to them.

The latest data from the General Administration of Customs showed that bilateral trade between China and Africa totaled 1.14 trillion yuan ($156.4 billion) during the first seven months of this year, up 7.4 percent from a year earlier.

"Economic and trade cooperation is the cornerstone of China-Africa relations, and despite the challenging international situations in recent years, China-Africa trade and economic cooperation has always been growing steadily, demonstrating strong resilience," said Zhang Wei, vice-president of the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation.

"As China accelerates the building of the new dual-circulation development pattern, the country is unwaveringly pursuing a win-win opening-up strategy and promoting an open world economy, which will provide more cooperation for countries around the world, including those in Africa," she added.

China has been Africa's largest trading partner for 14 consecutive years. Chinese imports from Africa in the past 23 years have accumulated to $1.42 trillion, while the responding figure for exports to Africa was $1.58 trillion, data from the Ministry of Commerce showed.

The imports and exports between the two sides reached $282 billion last year, growing 11.1 percent from a year earlier.

In particular, China's exports to Africa amounted to $164.5 billion last year, up 11.2 percent on a yearly basis. Inbound shipments from Africa reached $117.5 billion, growing 11 percent year-on-year.

Trade and investment cooperation between China and Africa is deeper and developing further, thanks to multiple drivers including having common values such as an environment to encourage free trade and innovation, and promoting economic growth, according to Sarmad Lone, regional head of client coverage, corporate, and commercial and institutional banking in Africa, the Middle East and Pakistan at Standard Chartered Bank.

Lone said he has witnessed cooperation grow between Chinese and African businesses, adding that free trade and free movement of goods and capital have always worked to benefit the countries and companies involved.

"What we see is that a lot of times, companies and countries are in need of solutions and many times the best solutions are coming from Chinese corporates," he said.

According to Zhang, as Africa makes efforts to build a unified market and unleash more economic growth potential, trade and economic cooperation between China and Africa is set to become deeper and higher in quality.

Cooperation prospects between the two sides are broadening quickly in areas like financial services, digital economy, aerospace and new energy, she said.

A recent report by the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation said concerted effort has been made for China-Africa economic and trade cooperation under multilateral frameworks.

At the African continent level, China-African Union cooperation on the Belt and Road Initiative has entered the implementation stage. The two sides have conducted exchanges in response to the pandemic, food, energy, production capacity investment, infrastructure, quality standards and statistics, the report said.

China has also collaborated with African financial institutions on projects in the fields of agricultural product processing, water supply and sanitation, transport, electric power and energy.

To help relevant African countries relieve debt burdens, China has fully implemented the G20 debt service suspension initiative, with the largest amount of debt relief among the G20 member states, the report said.

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