Dr. Miriam Altman is a Commissioner in the South African Planning Commission and a leading South African economist. (Photo: File)
Johannesburg (People’s Daily) - The economic relationship between China and Africa has dramatically expanded and deepened especially over the past 20 years, said Dr. Miriam Altman, a Commissioner in the South African Planning Commission and a leading South African economist.
China’s 40 years of reform and opening-up has not only lifted a large population out of poverty but has also offered great opportunities for Africa with its infrastructure construction and industrial development, Altman noted.
“China’s evolving commitment to globalization, investment partnerships, fair trade and compliance to local governance will be of growing importance in Africa’s efforts to industrialize,” she said.
Going forward, insertion into China's extensive value chains can offer a great opportunity for African countries to build export capacity. China has been an important market for African commodities, especially in minerals and metals.
As China opens up, it should become a more significant buyer of African manufactures and agricultural products. A virtuous circle will be promoted, with rising employment and incomes contributing to the realization of Africa's demographic dividend.
Chinese companies are making a positive contribution to African economic development and modernization.
In South Africa, there are investments that establish manufacturing capability for export by companies like Hisense and FAW. Some of the opportunities created by the emerging policy have bolstered tourism among Chinese, opening China’s markets to imports, and investing in cooperation with African financial institutions.
China is Africa's largest economic partner. The African population of over 1.1 billion is a healthy base for young consumers.
Since 2000, trade has grown 20 percent annually while direct foreign investment has risen 40 percent year on year.
When talking about protectionism, Altman said, China’s growth has created significant competition for the West, which is now one explanation for protectionism. This is a defensive response that will hurt us all. It is well known that growth relies on fair trade and investment, and the reality is that global value chains are deeply intertwined.
“Although Africa as a whole has a critical trade imbalance with China, we are happy to see Chinese markets are beginning to open. The China International Import Expo, which was held in Shanghai in November this year, was a positive demonstration of this,” she said.
Altman praised China’s opening-up and reform as an exciting step in China’s global engagement, which will enhance the ability to achieve greater mutual benefit in global trade and investment relations.