FOCAC starts today in South Africa

4 December 2015

Ties between China and Africa are expected to strengthen as the Forum on China-Africa Co-operation (FOCAC) summit commences today. The historic event, the first to be hosted in Africa, will run till tomorrow in Joburg, South Africa.

It is co-chaired by Chinese President Xi Jinping, already in South Africa for a State Visit, and President Jacob Zuma.

Numerous heads of African states, representatives from the African Union (AU), heads of regional organisations and multilateral organisations are also participating in the summit, which has the theme “Africa-China progressing together: win-win co-operation for common development”.

The Johannesburg Declaration

A new declaration – the Johannesburg Declaration – will be adopted at the conclusion of the summit. It is an action plan to outline measures to consolidate the expanding relationship between Africa and China.

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

The Johannesburg Declaration will also take into account the AU’s first 10-year implementation plan of Agenda 2063. The agenda is a continental vision for an African continent that is united, peaceful and prosperous, and which moves towards industrialisation and value-addition, infrastructure development and greater intra-African trade.

China and Africa partnership

The historical relationship between China and Africa has grown in the last few years. The oriental country has been Africa’s largest trade partner for six consecutive years and Africa is assuming growing importance as an investment and engineering contract destination for Chinese enterprises.

Over the past 15 years, the trade volume between China and Africa has soared from $10-billion (R144-billion at today’s exchange rate) to $220-billion. During the same period, China’s direct investment in Africa has sharply increased from $500-million to $30-billion.

South Africa’s relations with China remain central to realising its developmental agenda through foreign policy as it increases efforts to implement its National Development Plan; and collaborate in agriculture, environmental affairs, trade and industry, and finance. This comes as the country continues to drive the agenda of moving South Africa forward.

Arrival of Chinese president

President Xi arrived in South Africa on 2 December. In his arrival statement, he said the relationship between South Africa and China was at its best and had become a model of solidarity and co-operation between developing countries.

The two countries had “steadily enhanced political trust, deepened practical collaboration in all areas and engaged in dynamic people-to-people and cultural exchanges, and carried out interestingly close international co-operation”.

About FOCAC

Established in 2000, FOCAC aims to promote bilateral ties between China and Africa through dialogue.

This year marks the 15th anniversary of the forum. It is the first time the ministerial meeting has been upgraded to a leader’s summit. This is seen as a reflection of the developing and growing relationship between the two sides.

SouthAfrica.info reporter