China-US-Africa in focus by scholars

Updated: 2013-09-02 11:02

By Chen Weihua (China Daily)

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China-US-Africa in focus by scholars

While China's role in Africa is often controversial in the West and China-US ties in the continent often called contentious, two papers released last week shed light on the vexing issues.

One is from the Brookings Institution on a trilateral dialogue between China, the United States and Africa; the other is a white paper on China-Africa economic and trade cooperation issued by the information office of China's cabinet, the State Council.

Describing the China-Africa relationship as "mutually beneficial," the white paper said "China-Africa economic and trade development has improved people's livelihoods and diversified economic development in African countries, and provided strong support for China's social-economic development".

China has replaced the US as Africa's largest trade partner. In 2012, China-Africa trade hit $198.5 billion, after annual growth of 19 percent from 2009 and accounting for 16 percent of the continent's trade with the rest of the world.

The paper pointed out the great potential for bilateral trade and said China will take multiple measures to promote it, including implementation of a special plan on trade with Africa which will expand the scope of zero-tariff treatment for African goods exported to China.

Since January 2012, the 30 least developed African nations that have diplomatic ties with China have been granted zero-tariff treatment for 60 percent of their exported items.

The Chinese government also encourages and supports companies and financial institutions to increase investment in Africa. China's foreign direct investment in African nations increased 20.5 percent annually since 2009 to $2.5 billion last year. And more than 2,000 Chinese businesses have invested in more than 50 African countries and regions, according to the white paper.

Unlike what has been reported often in the West, only 30.6 percent of Chinese investment is in mining, while 19.5 percent is in finance, 16.4 percent in construction, and 15 percent in manufacturing, according to the white paper.

The white paper also noted a significant increase in African investment in China. By the end of last year, investment from African nations in China totaled $14.2 billion, a jump of 44 percent from 2009.

The white paper listed bilateral cooperation in agriculture, food security, infrastructure cooperation, capacity building and the improvement of people's livelihood and under a multilateral framework.

While the white paper describes a mutually beneficial relationship between China and Africa, the Brookings paper called for more cooperation by China and the US in Africa.

Witney Schneidman and Andrew Westbury of the Africa Growth Initiative at the Brookings, said the US should not neglect the powerful opportunities for cooperation with China and its African partners.

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