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Week in Review: Trade, Tilapia and Transmission Lines

A frozen Tilapia fish imported from China being thawed out at a local market in Kenya. Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP

Wycliffe Oparanya, governor of Kenya’s Kakamega County, opened a new $120 million EU-financed fish processing factory that is intended to help Kenya reduce its dependence on imported Chinese tilapia and increase exports to Europe. Local fishers have long complained that low-cost Chinese imports, which they claim are also low quality, have made it much more difficult for them to compete in the market. When fully operational, the new plant will be able to process up to 30 tons of locally caught fish per day. (THE FISH SITE)

China-Africa two-way trade is rebounding strongly following last year’s dip brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to new Chinese government data. Chinese exports to Africa jumped 27% (to $68.7 billion) during the January-June time period, compared to the same time last year. Imports from Africa surged by 36% to $50.23 billion. Total two-way trade for H1 2021 now stands at $118.93 billion. Last year, trade between the two regions totaled $187 billion. (NATIONAL REFORM AND DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION)

Debt servicing costs consumed 41% of Kenya’s government revenues in the last financial year. That figure would have been significantly higher had it not been for a 6-month debt deferral agreement with China and an emergency loan from the International Monetary Fund that was intended to help cushion the impact from the ongoing financial crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. With about $6 billion of outstanding loans due, China is Kenya’s largest bilateral creditor.(AFRICA CONFIDENTIAL)

Nigeria’s House of Representatives passed final approval of an $8.3 billion loan package requested by Muhammadu Buhari that includes $5.4 billion from the China Exim Bank and the Industrial Commercial Bank of China. To be clear, these are not new loans. They are financing from the 2018-2020 external borrowing plan for which the president sought legislative approval. The two Chinese loans were used to build various rail projects. Lately, however, Nigeria has failed to secure new Chinese financing for infrastructure development. (PUNCH)

The Paris Club of creditors is putting new pressure on the Chinese government to embrace the G20’s Common Framework that treats both private and public debts equally. The group of wealthy lenders on Friday called for the formation of a creditor committee to restructure Ethiopia’s debt under the auspices of the Common Framework. Beijing, to date, has refused to include most commercial loans in its debt relief initiatives in Africa and elsewhere. (REUTERS)

The Zimbabwean NGO Advocates4Earth is suing the government to block the export of another group of elephants to China. The group cites well-documented evidence that the animals are treated inhumanely in Chinese zoos. However, the Zimbabwe Wildlife Authority denies it is in the process of exporting elephants to China. Tinashe Farawo, the Wildlife Authority’s spokesperson, says it’s nothing but a publicity stunt. (VOA NEWS)

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi wrapped up a four-day three-nation MENA tour in Algeria, where he met with President Abdelmadjid Tebboune on Monday. Unlike his previous stops in Syria and Egypt that included more consequential issues on the agenda, Wang’s meetings in Algeria were seemingly focused more on relationship building, at least according to the public readouts. (ALGÉRIE PRESSE SERVICE)

The price of cobalt has gone up over the past week due to disruptions of the supply chain between the mining zones in the DRC and South African ports, from where the blue metal is shipped mostly to China. Port operations at Durban and Richards Bay, also in South Africa, are gradually returning to normal but fuel and food shortages, as well as remaining road closures in the Durban port vicinity, are creating backlogs as trucks cannot get in and out of the ports. (ARGUS MEDIA)

A new extradition treaty between China and Zimbabwe is now in effect. Under the agreement, each country can repatriate the other’s nationals but not their own. The agreement allows for repatriation only for crimes that are on the books in both countries with a minimum of a one-year jail sentence and does not include political crimes. (THE HERALD)

Saudi Arabia held on to the top spot in June as China’s biggest crude supplier, a position it’s held for eight consecutive months, according to new Chinese customs data. Russia was second, while shipments from the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait both fell last month, an indication that illicit Iranian imports may be slowing. For at least a year now, China’s been buying large amounts of Iranian oil that’s shipped through third-party states to circumvent U.S. sanctions. (REUTERS)

The Chinese infrastructure conglomerate PowerChina signed a deal this month with Zimbabwe’s state-owned electricity transmission company to build the 85-kilometer Alaska-Karoi transmission line. The $22 million project will be funded by the African Development Bank and built by PowerChina’s subsidiary Sinohydro. In previous years, initiatives like this would have been funded by Chinese entities but today that’s no longer the case as Chinese policy banks have curtailed lending. (见道SEETAO NEWS)

Burundi, Cameroon, and Zimbabwe, along with a number of other African countries, were among the 55 signatories of a Chinese-supported letter sent on Tuesday to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom to oppose the so-called “politicization of the origin study” of COVID-19. Much as it’s done when under attack for its human rights record, China is mobilizing a coalition of developing countries to submit these kinds of letters to UN bodies as a way of standing up to its Western critics. In this case, Beijing rejects the assertion that COVID-19 originated in China and wants to block an unrestricted WHO investigation into the pandemic’s origin. (CHINESE MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS)

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