Progress at a glance: Implementation of FOCAC new economic and trade measures

Progress at a glance: Implementation of FOCAC new economic and trade measures



Today, China is Africa’s largest trading partner and Africa is the second largest market for contractual engineering and an emerging investment destination, says Gao Hucheng, the Chinese minister of Commerce.

PROGIESS 2The friendship between China and Africa is cordial and China has been extending support to Africa to boost their economy. For their efforts in strengthening the relationship between Africa and China, the government of the People’s Republic of China’s collaboration is sustainable based on win-win cooperation and common development.

As the saying goes, a good beginning is a job half done. And the 10 cooperation plans identified by President Xi Jinping already have a head start.

President Xi, in 2015, on his visit to Africa, attended the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Johannesburg Summit, at which he elevated China-Africa relations to a comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership, identified “5 major pillars,” proposed 10 major China Africa cooperation plans and developed a grand blueprint for China-Africa cooperation.

Hence, the economy is one of the “5 major pillars.” According to China’s Commerce minister, new trade and economic measures account for more than 70 percent of the contents of the 10 major cooperation plans.

Listening keenly to Minister Gao’s report to the meeting on the progress made in implementing the new economic and trade measures of the 10 cooperation plans, it was impressive and there is hope for huge progress in the future.

First, he disclosed that under the China-Africa industrialisation plan, China has signed cooperation documents with countries including Mozambique on building trade and economic cooperation zones. The expansion project of China-Egypt Suez Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone has started and Ethiopia has launched the Hawassa Industrial Park.

Chinese enterprises are also exploring similar opportunities in, among others, the Republic of Congo, South Africa and Morocco. It has trained more than 30,000 African technical personnel on site and hosted over 6,000 officials and technical staff in 150 multilateral and bilateral training programs in China.

China will also help Africa to set up 24 regional vocational education centers and schools for capacity building and send 10 customs advisors to Ethiopia. An additional capital of US$5 billion has been injected into the Special Loan for the Development of African Small and Medium-sized Enterprises. It has extended US$100 million in loans for five projects in five countries.

The China-Africa Development Fund has invested another US$100 million in seven projects of six African countries.

Under the China-Africa Agricultural Modernization Plan, China has set out on the agro-product primary processing center in Cape Verde and 10 other agricultural development projects aimed at boosting the people’s income through agriculture, and the “10+10” cooperation mechanism between agricultural research institutes which include the China-Africa Joint Research Center in Kenya.

China has sent 47 teams of agricultural experts to countries such as Togo and Djibouti. It has also provided emergency food aid for 14 African countries affected by El Nino, including rice and wheat for Zimbabwe and South Sudan, among others, as well as US$10 million in cash assistance for Ethiopia and Somali through the UN World Food Programme.

Under the China-Africa infrastructure plan, it has launched 124 infrastructure development projects using grant and zero interest loans, including the Addis Ababa municipal road in Ethiopia. The feasibility study on transportation universities such as the railway institute in Ethiopia has been finished.

China has agreed to provide concessional loans for 14 projects such as the Benin-Togo Adjarala Hydropower Station, the Foudiougne Toll Bridge in Senegal, the repair of the Kigali municipal road in Rwanda, the Doraleh multi-purpose wharf and livestock port, 40 rice processing plants in Nigeria and a video surveillance platform in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire.

According to primary statistics, relevant Chinese financial institutions are evaluating about 70 financing projects in Africa that are relatively mature, involving more than 20 countries with total financing needs of US$26 billion.

The China-Africa public health plan, China and the African Union have signed an MOU on the African Center for Disease Control. China has implemented 54 demonstration projects on China-Africa hospital cooperation including the technical cooperation program for the China-Guinea Friendship Hospital, carried out 16 medical assistance projects including cataract surgeries in Comoros, and provided the anti-malaria compound artemisinin to countries like the Republic of Central Africa and Chad.

Chinese companies are exploring with countries like Ethiopia to establish medicine and health industrial parks and pharmaceutical preparations facilities.

Under the China-Africa financial, green development, trade and investment facilitation, poverty reduction, cultural and people-to-people, peace and security plans, China has implemented 55 poverty reduction projects including the Mophane Primary School in Botswana, 43 green development programs including the solar power generation project in Eritrea, 24 aid-for-trade programs including container inspection facilities for Cote d’Ivoire, 15 peace and security programs including police supplies for Lesotho, and seven African cultural centers.

In the form of bilateral governmental zero-interest loans that matured at the end of 2015, China has signed debt cancellation agreements with countries like Mozambique. The RMB has become freely convertible with the local currency in Kenya.

“For over half a year, notable and encouraging progress has been made in implementing the new economic measures under the 10 cooperation plans,” Gao disclosed.

Neneh Macdouall-Gaye, Gambia’s Foreign Affairs minister has stated that the People’s Republic of China’s establishment of the FOCAC goes a long way towards indicating their sincerity and their readiness to continue to work with Africa and to see tangible results.

She described the relation as a quality one, simply for the fact that the Chinese government has gone further to have a plan of action and organize a meeting to assess the implementation process on the level of implementation.

At the forum, the African delegates were pleased with China for their commitment regarding the Africa-China relations and the fact that the relationship is not based on conditions, but based on mutual respect, trust, understanding and solidarity.

by Mariatou Ngum in Beijin, China