China is the main trading partner of Africa, accounting for nearly 20% of the continent’s foreign trade, according to Ibrahim El-Araby, President of the Union of African Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Agriculture, and Professions (UACCIAP).
El-Araby has delivered a speech at the opening of the African-Chinese Economic Summit on Monday. He stressed the importance of partnership between Africa and China in economic and commercial development, noting that China is the main investment partner in Africa, especially in the field of infrastructure.
He added that UACCIAP has taken the initiative to extend bridges of cooperation with all countries and blocs in the world to exploit all available opportunities to develop the economic relations of the continent, pointing out the union’s success in establishing many joint chambers of commerce with the African continent, such as the African-Chinese Chamber, the Arab-African Chamber, in cooperation with the Arab League. It is also currently working on the establishment of the European-African Chamber, which the Union proposed the idea of establishing during the work of the Euro-African Summit in Lisbon, and the American-African Chamber that was put forward during the America-Africa Summit, the African-Korean Chamber and the African-Japanese Chamber in order to increase Trade and investment exchange, exchange of experiences, and development of technologies necessary to transform African natural wealth into value-added products, maximizing returns for the people of the African continent and providing job opportunities for its youth in cooperation with development partners from various countries of the world.
Al-Araby added that despite the many challenges facing the global economy during the current period in the fields of energy, environment, climate changes and facing the inflationary effects of the Coronavirus pandemic, the African business community looks at the other side of the currency in terms of investment and trade opportunities developed as it sees it as promising opportunities for the development of intra-trade between Africa and China And an important opportunity for the development of joint investments.
He explained that the African continent is the second largest continent in terms of population, as it represents one-eighth of the world’s population, as it represents 60% of arable land, 50% of the world’s stock of platinum, cobalt and diamond minerals, 11% of petroleum, 6% of gas, and 4% of coal, in addition to its industrial exports, which doubled in the past decade to reach more than $100bn.
He stressed that the current challenges facing the global economy require us to focus on our joint cooperation to develop intra-regional trade and joint investments, and this can only be achieved through the development of transportation and logistics and the exploitation of the African Continental Free Trade Area with its huge purchasing power that exceeds $1.4trn.
Al-Araby praised the role of the Egyptian government for the material and moral support it provided to the African Union of Chambers of Commerce and Industry since its inception, which resulted in the signing of the headquarters country agreement. The Egyptian government also granted it all immunities, exemptions and guarantees as an African international economic organization.
China’s Road and Belt Initiative includes the Suez Canal and many major projects, such as Point Port Noire in Congo, Tema port in Ghana, Abuja-Kefe road in Nigeria, and Gabor-Kolak road in Senegal, which are integrated with the Alexandria-Cape Town road and the hub ports of the Suez Canal to spread development throughout the African continent.