China’s trade with Africa could be set to return to pre-pandemic levels, if recent momentum can be maintained. In the first eight months of the year, total two-way trade between China and African countries grew by 40 per cent year on year to US$162.7 billion, according to Chinese customs data.
In 2020, the figure for 12 months dropped 11 per cent year on year to US$187 billion, after growing 2 per cent to US$208.7 billion in 2019, before Covid-19 emerged. In the year to the end of August, China bought goods worth US$68.8 billion, up 45 per cent from the same period last year. It has continued to source agricultural products such as chilli pepper, cashew nuts, sesame seeds and spices.
Tanzania last year began to export soybeans to China, as Beijing sought to cut its reliance on the US and Brazil for supplies of the oilseed. Similar deals have been struck for Kenyan avocados, tea, coffee and roses, Ethiopian coffee and soybeans, beef products from Namibia and Botswana, fruit from South Africa, and Rwandan coffee.
In the eight-month period, the biggest trading partner was South Africa, whose trade with China picked up this year as the country started easing the tough restrictions it had imposed to fight the coronavirus. Trade between China and South Africa grew by 66 per cent to US$34.7 billion compared with last year.
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