FOCAC to enhance cooperation and exports with China

South African President, Jacob Zuma and Chinese President, Xi Jinping. South African President, Jacob Zuma and Chinese President, Xi Jinping.

South Africa will this week play host to the historic event, the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) summit.

The summit is historic because it is not only the first FOCAC summit on African soil but also a summit that will deepen China-Africa relations in every aspect. The Johannesburg summit will be preceded by a meeting of senior officials on Wednesday followed by the Sixth Ministerial Meeting of FOCAC on Thursday.

President Xi Jinping and President Jacob Zuma will co-chair the actual summit on Friday and Saturday. African Heads of State and Government, representatives from the African Union (AU), heads of regional organisations and multilateral organisations will also participate in the summit which will be held under the theme ‘Africa-China Progressing Together: Win-Win Cooperation for Common Development.’

Established in 2000, FOCAC aims to promote bilateral ties and cooperation between China and Africa through dialogue. This year marks the 15th anniversary of the forum, and it's the first time the ministerial meeting has been upgraded to a leader's summit.

The summit will pick up on key areas of cooperation that the two sides have identified. These include economic cooperation, infrastructure development, beneficiation, debt relief, industrialisation, investment promotion, market access expansion, cooperation in health, agriculture, science and technology, education as well as cultural and people-to-people exchanges.

The African continent has identified several projects that need to be implemented in the first 10 years of Agenda 2063. These include an integrated high speed train network, the great Inga Dam project, a single African aviation market, the free movement of persons and the African passport, the creation of a free trade area as well as silencing the guns in Africa by 2020.

The Chinese side has indicated that President Xi is likely to announce a three-year package for the cooperation with Africa in areas including industrialisation, agriculture modernisation and infrastructure development.

The summit is also set to prioritise major bottlenecks constraining Africa’s development, such as infrastructure and the lack of professionals.

Ahead of the FOCAC, South Africa’s exports to China received a boost with the signing of more than 20 cooperation agreements and contracts to the value of US$918m, the Department of Trade and Industy (DTI) said on Monday. These agreements and contracts were signed during the China Inward Buying Mission event that took place in Sandton, Johannesburg.

“More than 16 South African companies signed these purchase and investment agreements with the Chinese companies,” said the DTI in a statement.

The Inward Buying Mission forms part of the implementation of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Agreement (CSPA) signed between South Africa and China.

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