CGTN | 9 December 2020
African ambassadors expect more cooperation with China under new FTA
By Huang Yue
A free trade agreement between 55 African countries will go into effect in just over three weeks’ time. African ambassadors say the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will provide more opportunities for trade with China. That is the message from a round table discussion organized by the Center for China & Globalization in Beijing, on Tuesday.
Ambassadors present at the meeting said free trade and opening up will help boost economic development for all sides, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
"China has needs and Africa also has needs; China has potentialities and Africa also has potentialities. We have the African Continental Free Trade Area that can be one place to promote both sides, and find a place to deepen the cooperation between China and Africa," said Isabel Domingos, ambassador from Sao Tome and Principe.
Established last year, the AfCFTA achieved one of the most significant milestones over the weekend. The continent agreed to start trading on January 1 come year under the free trade area rules.
The AfCFTA requires strong infrastructure linkage across the African continent, an area where China can reach out to help.
Poor, immature infrastructure connectivity among African countries is the overriding cause of low inter-African trade, but China is giving a hand through the Belt and Road Initiative, which aims to build a global trade and infrastructure network.
Ambassadors said more initiatives and agreements under the continental integration project are expected to be signed, which will provide more opportunities for China and Africa to work together in the future.
"It is expected that once these initiatives take off, there will be a need for the two partners to work together and to work out strategies that not only benefit the two sides, but also work in partnership against some of the global challenges that we are faced with," said Masanneh Nyuku Kinteh, ambassador from the Gambia.
Ambassadors added that further opening up to the global market is also one of China’s key focuses in its blueprint for the next five years.
Therefore, it’s necessary for the African Continental Free Trade Area and Chinese initiatives, such as the Belt and Road Initiative, to create synergy to promote industrialization and competitiveness in the global market.