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China and Africa business forum looms

CBJ - July 26 - The China Africa Business Forum will be held at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa on 20 October 2011. The forum will host trade and industry professionals, investors and diplomatic representatives to discuss how to increase trade between African and Chinese businesses.

While some are sceptical as to whether China-Africa trade benefits Africa as much as China, those in the know say much depends on whether African countries and businesses position themselves to exploit strategic opportunities. These include opportunities for bilateral trade in sectors such as infrastructure and logistics, construction, agribusiness, human-resource development, mining and energy.

China has become the world's top manufacturer surpassing the US, with a manufacturing industry that produces a range of sophisticated equipment beneficial to Africa's development. Meanwhile, Africa has strategic resources such as oil.

The importance of the bilateral relationship between China and Africa was emphasised at the World Economic Forum 2011 held in Cape Town in May, where South African President Jacob Zuma said, "Africa should interact with China in a way that benefits both countries."

Trade between South Africa and China has grown by more than R100-billion (US$13.6-billion) since 1998, when full diplomatic relations were established. Total trade amounted to R119.7-billion (US$16.3-billion) at the end of 2009, growing by 2% from 2008 to a total of R118-billion (US$16-billion).

China's involvement in the African economy has also made it possible for African countries to diversify their trading partners, thereby reducing their vulnerability to primary commodity price shocks, and increasing competition among importers of African commodities.

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