Published: Tue, September 04, 2018
Finance | By Kristine Clayton

China-Africa trade deficit prominent at conference

China-Africa trade deficit prominent at conference

He listed eight focal areas of funding that would premise the emergence of the "China- Africa community with a shared future in the new era".

China planned to exempt some African countries from interest-free loans due by the end of the year, Xi said, adding that the relief would be granted to the continent's poorest and most heavily indebted countries.

China is offering US$60 billion in financial support and a debt write-off to impoverished African nations- no strings attached, Chinese President Xi Jinping said Monday.

He did not say which countries would have their debt absolved, but the move appeared to be the latest effort by Beijing to deflect concerns about debt levels on the continent and the risks of "debt trap diplomacy".

The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) should "build links between dignity, work opportunity and economic", Ramaphosa said.

Ahead of the presidential address, Chinese officials had cited a 2017 study by McKinsey, a USA consulting firm, which had spotlighted that China has become Africa's most important and unrivalled economic partner.

Xi made no mention of the political and debt concerns that overshadow some BRI projects.

Chinese state media has accused the West of sour grapes over China's prominent role in Africa and has angrily rejected claims of forcing African countries into a debt trap.

Xi said their friendship was time-honored and that China's investment in Africa came with no political strings attached.

He said the $60 billion commitment from Xi would boost Africa's goals for industrial development, infrastructure development, human resources development, health care, the green economy as well as peace and stability.

The participants are looking for ways to "advance common growth and development", said South Africa's foreign minister, Lindiwe Sisulu.

China has poured billions in loans for roads, railways, ports and other major infrastructure projects in Asia and Africa.

"China will extend $60 billion of financing to Africa in the form of government assistance as well as investment and financing by financial institutions and companies", Xi said during a business forum ahead of a triennial China Africa summit in Beijing.

In addition, he said China will encourage companies to invest at least $10 billion in Africa over the next three years. It has since dipped and previous year continued a slow recovery to $170 billion.

Ramaphosa warned that the benefits of globalization have not been equally distributed between countries, resulting in a "fractured world where some powers are prone to unilateral and protectionist measures".

"Across trade, investment, infrastructure financing, and aid, no other country has such depth and breadth of engagement in Africa", the report observed.

"Another perspective.is that those criticising China on debt give too little", said Kagame in an interview with the official Xinhua news agency.

Beijing has also fended off criticism it is only interested in resource extraction to feed its own booming economy, that the projects it funds have poor environmental safeguards, and that too numerous workers for them are flown in from China rather than using African labor. Also promised are US$20 billion in credit lines, a US$10 billion fund for development financing and US$5 billion to finance imports from Africa.

"We export to China what we extract from the earth and China imports to us what it makes from its factories", said Ramaphosa, describing uneven arrangement as limiting, given Africa's quest to extract full value from its natural resources.

China loaned around £97 billion ($125 billion) to the continent from 2000 to 2016, data from the China-Africa Research Initiative at Washington's Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies shows.

He will also be co-chairing the forum on China-Africa Cooperation Summit which started this morning.

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