China-Africa trade ties strong despite Arab Spring impact

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Chinese President Hu Jintao (C) poses with other leaders attending the opening ceremony of the Fifth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Beijing, capital of China, on 19 July, 2012. Photo – Ju Peng/Xinhua

A Chinese think tank has said Arab uprisings that started in January last year across North African countries has had a limited impact on China-Africa trade.

The annual report on African development released by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in early July said China-Africa trade volume in 2011 reached a historic high of $166.3 billion, a year-on-year increase of more than 30%.

Countries like Sudan, Egypt, Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia also registered a rapid growth in trade with China. Libya was the only exception in the region, the report noted.

The findings suggested that turmoil in North Africa did not have a significant impact on China-Africa trade, adding that two North African nations (Sudan and Egypt) ranked among China’s top five African trade partners in 2011.

According to Wu Chunhua, senior Chinese diplomat, North African countries are looking to boost their economies by investing in people’s livelihoods and social stability, which provides cooperative opportunities for China’s enterprises.

Chinese direct investment in Africa exceeded $14.7 billion in 2011, with more than 2,000 Chinese-invested businesses operating in the continent, the academy’s statistics showed.

“China-Africa cooperation in the new century features significant economic engagement, mutual benefit and increasing efforts to build up Africa’s ability to independently develop,” Qi Jianhua, director of the research center on France and French-speaking countries at the China Foreign Affairs University, said.

Summit Pledge

Meanwhile, Chinese President Hu Jintao has pledged $20bn in credit for Africa over the next three years, part of its bid for closer ties and increased trade with the rapidly developing continent.

President Hu Jintao made the announcement at a summit in Beijing with leaders from 50 African nations.

“As developing nations, China and countries in Africa should work better together in response to the big bullying the small, the strong domineering over the weak and the rich oppressing the poor in international affairs,” the Chinese president said in his opening speech.

He also expressed China’s desire to continue to enhance traditional friendship with Africa, which Hu said, is based on mutual understanding and trust.

Africa has emerged as an important source of raw materials to power China’s economic boom and an important market for cheap Chinese products. The long-neglected continent is also benefiting from huge infrastructure projects led by Chinese firms.

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