Editorial – Crisis in China: and the winner is Africa?

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When China coughs the world trembles. As growth falters the second biggest economy of the planet plunges global financial centres in a cauldron of uncertainties. The end of an era? Without a doubt. Numerous economists agree on one point: double digit growth is a thing of the past and it ended with a hard landing. So, what of Africa in the context of this decline? Until recently still 25% of Africa’s export was China bound, while half of the foreign investments in Africa originated in the Middle Kingdom. Dazzling numbers for sure, and they don’t fail to make many countries of the Continent very nervous. Having said that, is the weakened strength of the giant really bad news? If a dozen African countries exporting raw materials were to suffer from a lack of demand going hand in hand with huge social pressures, their industrial activities would predictably slow down, but they wouldn’t grind to a halt. For come what may China needs – and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future – its African partners in order to build and maintain its global leadership. On the other hand for the countries of the Continent, whose economies are not linked with the rates of raw materials, perhaps an opportunity beckons. The halting economic activity of China brings about a reduced inflow of petrol (African or not) resulting in a spectacular fall in the price of oil per barrel.

For the vast majority of the Continental countries this decreased cost of energy will visibly enhance their commercial balance and economic recovery. Thus Europe will face African partners, not only economically more stable but also less dependent on China, and therefore more susceptible to an open dialogue with their traditional trade partners. Success favours the bold who are keen to make the most of the situation. And so for the members of the BLC-ACP it is now or never to seek new modes of cooperation, to implement them along the full length of the industrial chain, and by doing so to redefine the trail of future contacts with their African partners.

 

 

Guy Bultynck
Chairman CBL-ACP