(Ecofin Agency) - Despite Beijing’s efforts to rebalance its trade relationship with Africa, China’s imports from Africa recorded a two-digit decrease in the first fourth months of this year.
Trade between China and Africa reached $94.4 billion in the first four months of 2023, up by 8.9% compared to the same period the year before. The data was published by China’s general customs office.
From January 1 to April 30, 2023, exports from China to Africa rose by 26.9% year-on-year, to stand at $58.9 billion.
Meanwhile, imports from Africa stood at $35.5 billion, down by 11.8%.
Analysts mainly attribute the fall in the value of China's imports from Africa to the decline in commodity prices and decreased demand for minerals, amid a slower-than-anticipated recovery of the Chinese economy.
"The slowdown of Chinese economic growth due to extended periods of lockdown and geopolitical tensions disrupting supply chains in 2022 has considerably increased mineral stockpiles in China and reduced demand for all commodities," Carlos Lopes, former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, told the South China Morning Post.
To Africa, China exports mostly finished goods, including textiles, machinery, and electronics, whereas Africa's exports to the Middle Kingdom are dominated by raw materials like crude oil, copper, cobalt, and iron ore. The trade surplus is in favor of China.
However, Chinese authorities have implemented policies to address this trade imbalance. Last September, Beijing abolished import duties on 98% of goods imported from nine African nations, including Guinea, Mozambique, Rwanda, and Togo.
This tariff reform came after President Xi Jinping announced, at the 8th Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC 8) held in Dakar in November 2021, his country’s intention to import more agricultural products from Africa. Xi added that the goal was to have imports from Africa grow to $300 billion per year by 2035, from $100 billion in 2022.