China signs US$930m in business deals with Africa ahead of President Xi Jinping's visit

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 29 November, 2015, 2:52am
UPDATED : Sunday, 29 November, 2015, 2:52am

China boosted its economic ties with Africa yesterday by signing 23 business deals totalling US$930 million, while a fresh round of economic aid is being planned before President Xi Jinping starts his visit to the continent on Tuesday.

Mainland companies, including Sinosteel Corp, Sinochem Group and China Chengtong, agreed contracts with 50 South Africa firms involved in industries including steel, energy, medicine, fruits, wine and textiles, at a signing ceremony in Johannesburg, Xinhua reported.

Beijing has sought to address its excessive domestic capacity by relocating some businesses overseas, including Africa, as it steers its economy towards an advanced manufacturing and services sector.

Mainland business representatives visited export processing and manufacturing companies after ceremony, with South African firms keen to increase exports of high value-added products to China, Xinhua said.

Xi will announce new economic aid for the continent at a China-Africa summit in Johannesburg during his trip.

The aid was likely to cover the industrialisation of African nations, agriculture and food safety, in addition to investment in infrastructure, Qian Keming, China's Vice-Minister of Commerce, said last week.

Chinese delegates from leading firms in the railway, aviation, power, telecommunications and smart manufacturing sectors would attend an equipment expo during the summit, Qian said.

Beijing, a major consumer of African agricultural products and resources, has pledged to increase imports of the continent's non-resource products to address its trade deficit with China.

Xi's Africa trip, which also includes a visit to Zimbabwe, comes amid an increased significance of China's military and economic focus on Africa.

China's Ministry of National Defence said it was in talks with Djibouti to build a logistics facility to support Beijing's naval vessels carrying out peacekeeping and antipiracy missions in the Gulf of Aden and waters off Somalia - part of the important Suez canal shipping route for China's crude oil imports.

Beijing has been Africa's largest trading partner for the past six years, with the trading volume totalling US$222 billion last year.

Its investment in Africa reached US32.4 billion at the end of last year, with an annual rise in investment of more than 30 per cent in the past 15 years.