Africa: China, Continent to Strengthen Cooperation

Kizito Sikuka
The forthcoming ministerial meeting of
the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation will review
the implementation of various agreements
signed since 2006 and outline
a plan of action for the next three years.

The meeting set for Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt
on 8-9 November "will give an overall review
of the implementation of various
cooperative agreements since the Beijing Summit,
and will chart the course for the development
of China-Africa relations," the Chinese Foreign
Affairs Ministry said in a statement.

The statement said that a number
of bilateral agreements will be signed
to boost economic and trade cooperation,
and new measures are expected to help
Africa develop as well as to deal
with the global economic crisis.

The meeting is expected to issue
the Sharm el-Sheikh Declaration and also
the Sharm el-Sheikh Action Plan
for 2010-2012 as "a blueprint for bilateral
cooperation in various areas
in three years to come."

The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC)
is one of three high-level meetings established
by Chinese and African leaders at
their inaugural Summit in 2000.
The other two meetings to take place between
the Asian nation and African countries are
a senior officials meeting and
a conference of the Chinese follow-up
committee with the African diplomatic missions in Beijing.

At the last FOCAC Summit in 2006, attended
by 48 of the 53 members of the Africa Union,
China and Africa adopted a number
of resolutions, which proclaimed
the establishment of "a new type
of strategic partnership".

The partnership is based on "political equality
and mutual trust, economic win-win cooperation
and cultural exchanges," and calls
for the promotion of two-way trade
and investment and exploration
of new modes of cooperation.

Priority is placed on different areas
of the economy such as agriculture,
infrastructure, industry, fishing,
information technology,
public health and personnel training
to draw on each other's strengths
for the benefit of the two peoples.

On trade development, China and Africa
pledged to increase volumes to about
US$100 billion by 2010 with Chinese President
Hu Jintao announcing a package of aid
and assistance measures to Africa
including US$3 billion of preferential loans
in the next three years, and the exemption
of debt owed by some African countries.

China made an undertaking to establish
a US$5 billion fund to encourage
Chinese investment in Africa.

Significant progress has been made
in the past three years to meet
some of the targets set at the 2006 summit.
By the first quarter of 2009,
China had successfully cancelled
150 mature debts of 32 African countries.
Trade between China and Africa has
also increased -- in 2008 the volume was about
US$160 billion, a year-on-year increase
of 45 percent, surpassing the
US$100 billion target set by 2010.

Of the total volume, the imports from
Africa amounted to US$56 billion,
up by 54 percent over the previous year.

Chinese companies have been active
in building infrastructure and providing
loans and assistance to many African countries.

Exchange visits of top government officials
between China and Africa have expanded
to include more people-to-people visits.
The fourth meeting of the FOCAC is thus
viewed with great importance
to promote China-Africa relations.

Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao
and his Egyptian counterpart are expected
to co-chair the meeting and
some African Heads of State have been
invited to attend, including President
Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe.

The first FOCAC ministerial conference
was held in Beijing in October 2000.
This was followed by a meeting
in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 2003.
Beijing hosted a full China-Africa Summit in 2006.

Link here

Sent from Kigali, Rwanda

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