The bilateral trade between China and Africa increased by 35% year on year in 2021 to R4 trillion, with African exports reaching a record R1.7 billion, the EIU said. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, China will extend its ties with Africa over the next decade by focusing on trade, and it is unlikely to be dislodged by US and European Union efforts to re-engage with the continent.
According to an EIU research released on Thursday, the Asian country is likely to continue investing in Africa’s natural resources and may look to the continent as a source of food, increasing its agricultural expenditure. According to the research organization, Asia may perceive Africa’s young population as a supply of labour for its manufacturing enterprises and a market for its consumer goods.
China wants to overtake the EU as Africa’s largest trade partner by 2030, says the EIU, and while western nations endeavour to improve relations with the continent, they will struggle to catch up. Their relationships with the continent are complicated by Europe’s colonial history with Africa, as well as mistrust of their motives as a result of sporadic engagement in recent decades.
“Question marks are also being raised in Africa over the motives behind the re-engagement of the EU and US,” the EIU added. These
China has hosted annual meetings with African heads of state, which its geopolitical rivals are now imitating, while Russia, Turkey, Brazil, and Saudi Arabia are also attempting to establish relations with the continent.
In February, the EU and the African Union convened a summit, and US President Joe Biden has asked for a meeting with African leaders in December.
According to the EIU, these “will serve to counter, but not dislodge, Chinese influence across the continent.”
China has spent the last two decades establishing political and economic relationships with Africa, and better links may now help its economy even as slowing development may limit investment in the region.
“Food security issues and enormous food import requirements in China could drive large trade and investment flows in African agricultural products and production.”
“Africa has a massive, young, and low-cost labor pool that offers a potential outlet for China’s labor-intensive manufacturing sector—something that will become increasingly appealing as China’s labor force ages and gets more expensive.”
According to the EIU, bilateral trade between China and Africa increased by 35% year on year in 2021 to R4 trillion, with African exports reaching a record R1.7 trillion. Nigeria is Africa’s largest importer of Chinese goods, whereas South Africa is its largest exporter.
“Afro-Chinese relations are clearly entering a new phase,” said Pat Thaker, the EIU’s Middle East and Africa editorial director. ”Latest policy initiatives, development strategies and financial pledges point to a deeper and broader engagement.”