South African President Cyril Ramaphosa departs for Beijing on Friday for both a State visit to China and to co-Chair the 2018 Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), which will take place immediately afterwards. The State visit will take place on September 2 and FOCAC will be held on September 3 and September 4.
President Ramaphosa was invited to make a State visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping when the latter was on his State visit to South Africa in July. During the visit, the South African President will also meet with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.
The theme for the subsequent FOCAC is 'China and Africa: towards an even stronger community with a shared future through win-win cooperation'. Ramaphosa will address various sessions and events during the Forum, including the opening ceremony of the High-Level Dialogue between African and Chinese leaders.
South Africa will seek to get a larger role in FOCAC for the African Union Commission. It will also seek to continue close relations with Africa’s regional economic organisations and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, which is the African Union’s flagship socioeconomic development programme.
FOCAC 2018 is expected to be attended by more than 40 African Presidents and about 1 000 business people. “FOCAC is a powerful multilateral institutional apparatus bringing together China, the Commission of the African Union and 53 African nations, which serves as China’s primary policy tool to frame and guide its engagement with the African continent,” explained Standard Bank Group Asia CEO and Standard Advisory China head François Gamet.
The outcomes agreed at FOCAC will be presented in the Forum’s 2018 Action Plan. This, he averred, would likely be influenced by China’s Belt and Road Initiative, Agenda 2030 and Sustainable Development Goals, and by Africa’s Agenda 2063 and the national development strategies of the different African countries.
“Typically, Africa sells raw materials to China and then purchases higher-value added products from China,” he pointed out. “Despite a recent uptick of Chinese manufacturing investment in Africa – particularly from privately-owned Chinese firms – African nations will want to understand why relocation of production is not happening faster. It is therefore a safe bet that discussions will be held during FOCAC focusing on the policies that Africa needs to put in place to attract greater levels of Chinese manufacturing investment.