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Trade ready to take off again

By Chen Yingqun | China Daily Africa | Updated: 2017-11-17 10:26

Bilateral trade between China and Africa will recover this year, despite last year's slowdown, a recent report says.

China has remained the largest trading partner of Africa for eight continuous years, says Zhang Jianping, director of the West Asia and Africa Research Institute of the Ministry of Commerce's Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation.

He says that due to factors such as the sluggish recovery of the global economy, the constant fall in prices of commodities and the slowdown of global capital flows, the bilateral trade volume between China and Africa fell last year.

Figures from the Ministry of Commerce showed that in 2016, the bilateral trade was about $149.2 billion, including about $92.3 billion in China's exports to Africa and $56.9 billion in imports.

"In 2014, when bilateral trade reached the peak, it was about $200 billion," he says.

A report that focused on China and Africa's economic and trade relations was released by the West Asia and Africa Research Institute in Beijing on Nov 11.

Zhang says he believes trade will pick up this year, since there has been much progress in China and Africa's economic and trade relations while the report was being prepared. Trade in services, for example, is a new spotlight of bilateral trade.

"Service trade between China and Africa in sectors such as finance, aerospace, tourism, broadcasting and TV has been continuously deepening, with the appearance of many new forms of trade," he says. "Although service trade volume is relatively small, it will definitely grow fast, as there are many big construction projects between China and Africa going on."

In the investment sector, China's direct investment into Africa was about $2.4 billion in 2016, and mainly flowed to countries such as South Africa, Ghana, Zambia and Angola. The main sectors that China's investment goes into are construction, business services, mining and manufacturing, the report says.

"China's investment in Africa slowed down in 2016, due to the influence of global economic recession, but this doesn't affect China's building of industrial parks in Africa," Zhang says, adding that as more funds and financial tools are put into use to support small and medium-sized business, investment will grow in the future.

Zhang says that of the bilateral economic and trade cooperation, the most outstanding part is infrastructure.

Chinese companies in Africa completed contracting projects with total revenue of about $50 billion in 2016, with annual growth of about 14 percent in the past five years, the report says.

"It showcases that Africa has very strong desire now for the development of infrastructure," he says.

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