China-Africa: A Summit Amidst Slowdown

Filed under: Business |
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Jacob Zuma on a recent trip to China

South Africa’s President Zuma has warned that Africa’s ties with China are unbalanced.

Zuma was speaking in Beijing at The Forum on Africa-China Cooperation (FOCAC) that started on 19 July, just after China announced it was pledging $20bn in loans to Africa.

There is a clear consensus on the desire for more trade and investment, but the African negotiating side has been less clear about its other concerns – though Zuma articulates a desire to export more than just raw materials.

The Chinese government offered to attach more environmental safeguards to its projects at the FOCAC meeting, while its African counterparts pushed for more local employment and investment in industrial capacity and food security.

Several circumstances contributed to the more sombre attitude.

FOCAC is normally held late in the year, but Beijing wanted to leave plenty of time before its leadership handover.

Also, Beijing’s economic planners were busy cataloguing the symptoms of China’s own economic slowdown.

Nonetheless, trade with African countries reached $166bn in 2011, and this year’s FOCAC will help to push that total to greater heights