China announced that trade and investment with Africa rose nearly one-fifth in the first quarter from a year earlier, while its direct investment in the continent stood at 64 percent.
Sun Jiwen, spokesperson at the Chinese commerce ministry made this figures known in Beijing.
He said trade cooperation between China and Africa is “off to a flying start” in 2017, thanks to policy benefits from a cooperative framework laid down by the Chinese and African leaders in South Africa in 2015.
Sun said China’s total trade with Africa rose 16.8 per cent to 38.8 billion dollars in the first quarter, its first quarterly increase on a yearly basis since 2015.
“That’s mainly thanks to a 46 per cent year-on-year jump in imports from Africa in the first quarter with agricultural imports rising 18 per cent, while Chinese exports recorded a smaller fall of one per cent from a year earlier,” he said.
Chinese President Xi Jinping announced plans to plough 60 billion dollars into African development projects at a summit in Johannesburg in 2015, saying it would boost agriculture, build roads, ports and railways and cancel some debt.
China’s non-financial direct investment to the continent also jumped 64 per cent in the quarter, as countries such as Djibouti, Senegal and South Africa all saw a more than 100 per cent rise in the quarter.
China’s growing investment in the region is also likely to have been buoyed by its ambitious global trading strategy known as the Belt and Road Initiative, which appeared to be gaining traction recently, particularly in parts of East Africa where major infrastructure and defence projects are being built.
China’s trade relations with African countries are often dominated by big natural resource deals, triggering criticism from some quarters that China is only interested in the continent’s mineral and energy wealth.
As ties between China and Africa grow, policymakers and economists have urged African leaders to seek for more balanced trade relations.