2018 Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC): Remarks by President Cyril Ramaphosa
Remarks by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa during the 2018 FOCAC Opening Ceremony in Beijing, China
At the outset, allow me to express our profound gratitude for the generous hospitality accorded to all of us since our arrival in the ancient city of Beijing.
Africa and China enjoy a rich history characterised by friendship and solidarity.
We recall the historical visit of Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai to Africa in the 1960s, where he articulated the key principles underpinning our comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership.
He spoke of a relationship founded on equality, trust, mutual respect and mutual benefit.
Now, more than 50 years later, these principles remain at the centre of cooperation between the continent of Africa and China.
These are the principles that underpin the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation; they inform our decisions and guide our actions.
Since its launch in 2000, FOCAC has grown both in extent and scope.
It serves as an effective platform for south-south cooperation focused on the tangible improvement of the quality of lives of all the people of Africa.
In the values that it promotes, in the manner that it operates and in the impact that it has on African countries, FOCAC refutes the view that a new colonialism is taking hold in Africa, as our detractors would have us believe.
The progress that has been made over the last 18 years demonstrates the tangible and lasting benefit of FOCAC to the people of Africa and to the people of China.
The relationship that we have forged through FOCAC is premised on the fundamental and inalienable right of the African people to determine their own future.
It is premised on the African Union’s Agenda 2063, a vision that has been crafted in Africa, by Africans.
It is a vision of an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the international arena.
It is a vision of a continent where commerce, trade, investment, skills and knowledge move freely across the borders that were imposed on us by our colonial rulers.
We are working to build an Africa that is defined by good governance, democracy, respect for human rights, justice and the rule of law.
It is an Africa where the guns have been silenced, and where all its people live in peace and security.
It is an Africa with a strong cultural identity, common heritage, shared values and ethics.
Importantly, it is an Africa whose development is people-driven, relying on the capability and potential of its people.
We look to China as a valuable and committed partner in advancing Agenda 2063.
It is in pursuit of this vision that we embrace China’s ‘Belt and Road’ initiative.
We are confident that this initiative, which effectively compliments the work of FOCAC, will reduce the costs and increase the volume of trade between Africa and China.
It will encourage the development of Africa’s infrastructure, a critical requirement for meaningful regional and continental integration.
Yesterday, our Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Trade deliberated on the implementation of the pdf Johannesburg Action Plan (1.99 MB) .
We are greatly encouraged by their assessment that the ten cooperation plans announced in 2015 have been fully implemented, for it shows a partnership that is hard at work to advance the mutual interests of Africa and China.
The China-Africa industrialisation plan has driven industrial development in many parts of the continent and contributed to economic transformation.
The agricultural modernisation plan has promoted greater agricultural productivity and the infrastructure plan has boosted African connectivity and integration.
These plans have also contributed to environmental conservation, sustainable development, improved public health services, and peace and security.
Through FOCAC and other forums, China has worked to ensure that Africa’s development is prominent on the international agenda.
Building on these remarkable achievements, we welcome the announcement today by President Xi of new FOCAC initiatives that will have a significant and lasting impact on peace, stability and sustainable development on the African continent.
We appreciate the decision to provide new funding to African countries to the value of $60 billion and to invest in initiatives in areas such as industrial development, infrastructure, human resource development, health care, the green economy, and peace and security, among others.
Through this partnership, we are working together to advance growth and development on the African continent.
We have observed with interest and admiration China’s remarkable economic ascendance, making it the world’s second largest economy and third largest foreign investor.
We applaud its achievements in social development, lifting millions of people out of poverty and meeting almost all of the Millennium Development Goals.
There are many valuable lessons that Africa can learn from China’s impressive growth model and its approach to meeting the needs of its people.
Significantly, China has used its substantial capacity and resources as a catalyst for development in other markets.
As a result, the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation has become an essential platform to contribute to Africa’s social and economic advancement.
There has been rapid growth in Sino-African trade, with China now being Africa’s largest trade partner.
Much of what is exported from Africa are raw materials and primary products; much of what is imported from China are finished goods.
We export to China what we extract from the earth; China exports to us what it makes in its factories.
This obviously limits the ability of African countries to extract the full value for their abundant natural resources and to create work for their people.
It is through platforms like FOCAC that we should work to balance the structure of trade between Africa and China.
We welcome the fact that, in addition to trade, China has become a major investor in the continent.
As we look to expand Chinese investment in Africa, we need to encourage more local partnerships between Chinese and African entrepreneurs.
Through the transfer of knowledge and technology, such partnerships can contribute to the development and sustainability of African businesses.
They will be contributing to the expansion of Africa’s productive capacity and the creation of new industries.
It is important also that we promote investment-led trade between Africa and China, which addresses the nature and quality of investment in Africa.
We should seek inward investment that enables industrial development and the export of more value-added products.
Developments on the African continent are further expanding the potential benefits of cooperation.
We urge Chinese investors to take advantage of the great opportunities that will be created through the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area.
It will establish a single market of more than a billion people with considerable economic potential.
It will promote the industrialisation of African economies and position the continent as a global competitor.
Chinese companies that invest in Africa’s productive capacity will be able to reap the benefits of a massive continental market.
The economic value of FOCAC – to both Africa and China – is particularly important in the context of an increasingly uncertain global environment.
Global economic volatility and heightened concerns about peace and stability render developing countries particularly vulnerable.
There is a renewed threat to the rules-based multilateral global trading system, which although imperfect, does provide stability, predictability and a greater degree of fairness.
We should be using platforms such as FOCAC to reaffirm our shared commitment to multilateralism, a fair and transparent system of international trade and a global economic architecture that promotes the interests of the developing world.
Africa is the next frontier growth market in the world.
In the coming decades, it will create many opportunities not only for its people, but also for economic partners such as China.
China’s investment in Africa, its strengthening trade ties and its consistent support for Africa’s development will benefit the people of Africa and the people of China well into the future.
As we strengthen political and economic ties, we need to place greater emphasis on people-to-people cooperation.
We need, through such cooperation, to nurture and empower the youth of China and Africa.
This is a forward-looking partnership, concerned not only with the challenges of the present, but preparing for the opportunities of the future.
We should be using FOCAC as an instrument for youth development, to invest in building their capabilities and exposing them to the great possibilities that the world has to offer.
Our objectives extend beyond the peoples of Africa and China.
Together, we are working to build a community of shared future for all humankind.
This requires leadership, vision and partnership.
It requires dedication to building the capabilities of our peoples and a resolute commitment to the cause of development and progress.
With the foundation we have built through FOCAC, with the relationships we have established between our governments, leaders and people, I am certain that we will succeed.
I thank you.