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China-Africa trade enjoys 16.8 percent boost in Q1

Updated: May 12,2017 7:12 AM     China Daily

Chinese and African workers on the Mombasa-Nairobi railway project in Mombasa, Kenya. China’s non-financial outbound direct investment to Africa reached $750 million in the first three months this year.[Photo/Xinhua]

China-Africa trade surged 16.8 percent year-on-year to $38.8 billion in the first quarter of the year, thanks to their deepening cooperation, said a spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce.

It was the first quarterly rise since 2015, Sun Jiwen said at a news conference on May 11, saying the latest favorable results might herald an era of high-level cooperation this year.

China’s imports from the continent in the first three months amounted to $18.4 billion, up 46 percent from a year earlier. Among them, agricultural products grew by 18 percent, according to the ministry.

The nation’s exports to African countries continued to decline, by 1 percent year-on-year in the period, but the rate of decline has slowed.

China mainly imports commodities from Africa like oil and minerals, while it exports a wide variety of consumer and capital goods.

Sino-African cooperation has been on a fast track since 2015, when President Xi Jinping, at the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in South Africa, announced 10 strategic priorities with Africa within three years.

Cooperative fields ranged from industrialization, agricultural modernization, infrastructure and financial services, to green development, trade and investment facilitation.

China’s direct investment in the continent has increased significantly. The ministry’s statistics showed that in the first quarter, non-financial outbound direct investment from China to Africa reached $750 million, up 64 percent from last year.

In addition, Chinese companies have financed and built many infrastructure projects across the continent. In the first quarter, Chinese companies’ newly signed contracts in Angola grew by 136 percent year-on-year, and in Nigeria surged by 132 percent, according to the ministry.

Chinese companies’ engagement in African infrastructure projects has been successful, said Zhao Lin, GE China’s engineering procurement construction leader, citing his company’s latest endeavor with State-owned PowerChina Ltd in Africa.

In the future, the US-based company will continue to build stronger relations with Chinese partners across African markets, he added.

In 2016, China became the third-largest investor in Africa in terms of projects, capital investment and jobs, according to the Africa Attractiveness report released by accounting firm Ernst & Young.

It found almost a quarter of China-invested projects were directed toward Egypt, and Chinese investors took an active role in the telecoms, media and technology sector, automotive and business services sectors.