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Why Agricultural Cooperation Needs To Be High on the Agenda at Next Year’s China-Africa Summit

File image of a woman harvesting peppers from a field of a Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)-supported farm at Jere community, 11 km from Maiduguri, in Borno state, northeast Nigeria. PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP

In less than a year, the 8th Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Summit will take place in Senegal. Ever since the first FOCAC Ministerial Conference held in Beijing in 2000, this triennial Summit has been gradually institutionalized as a platform for bilateral and multilateral dialogues to shape priorities and co-develop cooperation projects. From as early as one year before the actual event (which means now), the FOCAC organizing committee already starts to plan the themes of the sub-forums and secure “arrangements and deliverables” of the summit. Deliverables mean agreements on aid and investment announcement, development cooperation projects, trade deals, or investment deals. Therefore, FOCAC is the best platform for the African Union and African countries to negotiate deals, shape future priorities, and make the most of the China-Africa cooperation.

Needless to say, the 8th FOCAC summit will take place against the backdrop of COVID-19. African sustainable development agenda is under threat from the humanitarian and economic damage inflicted by COVID-19. China-Africa cooperation has deepened in the area of public health, evidenced by the  China-funded US$80 million Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and Chinese-made COVID-19 vaccines assistance to Africa. Meanwhile, as African countries’ growth is threatened by COVID related global economic downturn, a debt crisis is looming large for China.  Consequently, the 8th FOCAC summit will likely to be focused on cooperation on public health, debt restructuring, infrastructure development, economic growth and employment.

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