African countries urged to deepen business ties with China amid COVID-19


African countries have been urged to strengthen business and economic activities with China in order to tap into the booming Sino-Africa trade relations to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 pandemic on the continent’s economy.

The urgent call was made by Vera Songwe, Under-Secretary-General of United Nations and Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), as she emphasized the need to effectively exploit the flourishing Africa-China trade ties in alleviating the economic impacts of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) impact on Africa.

“Africa, which has already been trading with China, can improve trading at this time based on a number of goods on which it possesses comparative advantage,” Songwe told participants attending a livestream on the positive role of digital trading to tackle the economic impacts of COVID-19 .

Noting that the COVID-19 pandemic “is particularly endangering global trade,” Songwe stressed that the African continent can make good use of the already successful Sino-Africa trade ties through strengthening digital technologies, such as the Electronic World Trading Platform (eWTP) initiative with the Alibaba Business Group, to fill the void created by the COVID-19 pandemic in the world of trade.

“We hope that with the eWTP, we can put more goods from the continent notably, coffee from Ethiopia, shea butter from Mali, white pepper from Cameroon… and saffron from Madagascar, among others, on the platform,” Songwe said.

“At a time when the world is closing down, it is particularly important that we continue with trade because that’s the only way we can build a prosperous world and a prosperous Africa, together with China,” Songwe added.

The ECA chief also stressed that as the African continent engaged in building and strengthening its trade with itself, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement remains the cornerstone of Africa’s trade relationship with itself and the world.

“We believe that with the opening up of the eWTP to more countries on the continent, we can do more together to ensure that no one is left behind from the COVID-19 crisis,” said Songwe.

Eric Jing, Alibaba Group Director and Executive Chairman of Ant Group, on his part also told the virtual streaming session his company’s strong resolve to further strengthen online trading in Africa with particular emphasis on benefiting African small and medium scale enterprises.

“We want to support SMEs worldwide to recover from the outbreak, resume production and secure orders in their times of need,” Eric said, as he emphasized that his company “looks forward to reopening global trade, starting with helping businesses reopen.” Enditem

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