Home Business China-Africa Forum, the promise of a more balanced partnership

China-Africa Forum, the promise of a more balanced partnership

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► What was the economic stake of the China-Africa summit?

He wants to establish a new partnership between the mainland and the People’s Republic of China, as their relationship has entered a new phase. After the honeymoon of the 2000s and the mid-2010s, during which China was welcomed to the continent where it invested in infrastructure and the exploitation of raw materials, a more balanced and more diversified relationship is now demanded on the side of African states.

Indeed, if China is today Africa’s largest trading partner – its trade will amount to $ 200 billion in 2020, according to the Chinese embassy in Dakar – this relationship is essentially going one way. : The continent’s trade deficit with China was nearly $ 18 billion in 2019.

To achieve a more balanced relationship, Senegalese President Macky Sall set out his demands on the first day of the forum, Monday, November 29: We must accelerate the development of African industrial capacities so that the continent facilitates the access of its products to the Chinese market. In addition, better access of African products to Chinese electronic platforms would help increase the volume of our trade to the benefit of both parties.

Message heard by Chinese President Xi Jinping, who replied, Tuesday, November 30: “China will expand the categories of products benefiting from tariff exemption for least developed countries to bring the total volume of Chinese imports from Africa to US $ 300 billion in the next three years . “

► Why are debts worrying?

The real state of indebtedness of African states vis-à-vis China is not public. But it is colossal, according to all observers. In a report published in September by AidData, we learned that the debts of 23 African countries vis-à-vis Beijing and Chinese financial institutions now exceed 10% of their GDP.

This report also revealed that 385 billion dollars (330 billion euros) of “hidden” debts contracted in Africa are not taken into account in the official declaration system of the World Bank.

In this context, China is suspected of using debts contracted by African states to increase its influence over countries unable or struggling to honor their commitments. This is why the Senegalese minister called for a Chinese relationship with the continent less focused on debt: “We have a lot of investments in debt, we need more investments in equity”, he said.

The Chinese president responded by announcing the cancellation of debts linked to intergovernmental loans maturing at the end of 2021 of the least developed African countries, as well as the reallocation to Africa of 10 billion dollars in special drawing rights.

► Did this forum have a political component?

For China as well as for Africa. The first, increasingly isolated on the international scene, must consolidate its position with its African partners. Hence his speech on debt and trade. But also on other subjects such as health. Thus, Xi Jinping announced a spectacular aid in the vaccination against the Covid: “China will provide Africa with a billion doses of additional vaccines, including 600 million in the form of donations and 400 million in other forms such as the establishment of vaccine production units. “ And sending 1,500 medical professionals to Africa.

Africa expects Beijing to commit to health, but also to security. Thus, the Senegalese Minister of Foreign Affairs, Aïssata Tall Sall, asked, at the opening of the summit, that China provide support in the fight against insecurity in the Sahel, where several countries are destabilized by the activities of jihadist groups. .

At the end of this forum, one can however wonder about the degree of sincerity of the commitments of the Chinese authorities as evidenced by the fate of the white paper published by Beijing, just before the forum, on its new cooperation with Africa. In its version intended for Africans, its title is China and Africa in the New Era: A Partnership of Equality. In its Chinese version, the title became China and Africa in the New Era : the assertion of“A partnership of equality simply disappeared, reports on Twitter Frédéric Lemaître, the correspondent of World in China.

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