There have been extensive discussions on the diversification of China’s foreign trade market and one of the popular questions is that can we make a big difference in Africa? Wei Jianguo, former Vice Minister of Commerce and Vice Chairman of China Center for International Economic Exchanges answered that question at the conference on China-Africa Mutual Assistance and the Common Future for mankind. He said that the China-Africa economic and trade cooperation will take a new step forward.
Recently, the Ministry of Commerce announced that in response to the invitation of the US, Wang Shouwen, Vice Minister of Commerce and Deputy Representative of international trade negotiations, will lead a delegation to the United States in late August, discussing China-US economic and trade issues with the US delegation led by US Deputy Treasury Secretary David Malpass. The development of the China-US trade relationship is full of uncertainties. At the same time, however, the China-Africa economic and trade cooperation has developed rapidly this year and achieved remarkable results. Wei Jianguo believes that the China-Africa economic and trade cooperation will have six major progress which will be able to alleviate the current tension in China’s foreign trade.
Wei Jianguo introduced the development of the China-Africa trade and economic cooperation. In 1990, the trade between China and Africa amounted to only $900 million but increased to $10 billion in 2000 and more than $100 billion in 2010. In 2014, the China-Africa trade volume reached $220 billion but the value dropped to $170 million in 2017.
The trade between China and Africa is expected to reach $400 billion by 2020, which represents a huge challenge for both sides. Many people think that this is impossible but Wei Jianguo pointed out that we can manage to achieve this goal despite the limited time we have. He believes that the following six significant progress can be made in the China-Africa trade and economic cooperation.
First of all, the overseas cooperative industrial parks are becoming important platforms for China to achieve industrial restructuring and make plans for global industrial development, which will not only help China to better implement the “Belt and Road Initiative” but can also be an important carrier for international capacity cooperation. At present, China’s industrial parks in Africa are mainly enterprise-based, such as the Eastern Industrial Park in Ethiopia. In the next two to three years, the industrial parks in Africa will cover the entire industry.
Second, all of China’s processing trade in Africa will develop into high technology in the next 5-10 years. In other words, Huawei, ZTE, Dajiang, and other Chinese high-tech companies are planning to open 20 new R&D centers in Africa. The China-Africa cooperation will no longer focus on shoes, textiles, clothing, luggage but shift to high technology.
Third, according to the report of “Farmers Daily”, China has already assisted Africa to build 25 agricultural technology demonstration centers with the purpose of bringing high-quality varieties and China’s experience in breeding, cropping, plant protection, fertilization, irrigation, harvesting to the key agricultural areas in Africa, which has played a significant role in improving agricultural production. In the next 5-10 years, China will help Africa to make historical progress in agriculture, Africa will not only be self-sufficient but also make contribution to global agriculture.
Fourth, the training for African talents will also be expanded to all areas, including basic education, adult training and high-tech training.
Fifth, more and more private enterprises will invest in Africa, especially in the cultural field. In the future, the processing industry will also cover service, tourism, culture and education.
Sixth, the trade and investment between China and Africa will experience a double-digit in the next 5-10 years, reaching 400 billion by 2020, and 500 billion by 2025 or 2030.
In order to improve the quality of the China-Africa economic and trade cooperation, Wei Jianguo said that it is necessary to increase technology transfer and training of high-end technical personnel in Africa, which is the prerequisite for promoting China-Africa industrial cooperation. At the same time, China should enlarge the scale of RMB settlement and local currency swap business with Africa, starting with the import of African oil.
The Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation will be held in September under the theme of “Toward an Even Stronger Community with a Shared Future through Win-win Cooperation,” ??which will inevitably inject new momentum into the China-Africa economic and trade cooperation in the new era.