Visitors buy African merchandise during the Second China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo in Changsha, capital of central China's Hunan Province, Sept. 28, 2021. (Xinhua/Chen Sihan)
BEIJING, Nov. 17 (Xinhua) -- China and Africa have maintained robust economic and trade cooperation, despite COVID-19, as their bilateral trade has set a record high in the January-September period.
Trade between China and Africa rose 38.2 percent year on year to 185.2 billion U.S. dollars in the January-September period, reaching the highest level in history for the same period, Chinese Vice Commerce Minister Qian Keming said Wednesday.
China's direct investment in Africa hit 2.59 billion U.S. dollars in the first nine months, up 9.9 percent, year on year. The growth rate is 3 percentage points higher than China's overall outbound investment, Qian said, adding that the growth rate outperformed the pre-pandemic level in the same period of 2019.
Chinese enterprises signed 53.5 billion U.S. dollars in new contracts in Africa in the period, up 22.2 percent year on year, with a turnover of 26.9 billion U.S. dollars, up 11.6 percent year on year.
These figures fully demonstrated the confidence of Chinese enterprises in Africa's future development, Qian said.
The Eighth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) takes place in Senegal at the end of November.
Against the backdrop of COVID-19, the 55 FOCAC members will gather again, which shows the strong willingness of China and Africa to deepen cooperation, Qian said. Qian believes the conference will boost the China-Africa comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership and chart the course for sustainable and high-quality development of China-Africa cooperation. He also said it would play a positive role in building a China-Africa community with a shared future in the new era.
China has maintained its position as Africa's largest trade partner for 12 years straight. The bilateral trade defied pandemic pressure to hit 187 billion U.S. dollars in 2020.
Ever since the establishment of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in 2000, trade between China and Africa and China's direct investment in Africa have increased 20 and 100 times, respectively, said Xu Bu, president of the China Institute of International Studies, at a forum in October.
China-Africa trade is generally balanced from a long-term perspective. Since 2000, China has imported 1.2 trillion U.S. dollars of goods from Africa and exported 1.27 trillion U.S. dollars of goods to Africa, Qian said.
Regarding sustainable development, Qian said China is ready to strengthen policy coordination with Africa. China would boost green, low-carbon, and clean energy cooperation and conduct technology exchanges to support Africa in enhancing its capacity to adapt to climate change and achieve sustainable development. ■