China’s BRI and the AfCFTA: Potential Overlaps, Complementarities and Challenges

Chinese President Xi Jingping (C) with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa (L) attend the 2018 Beijing 
Summit Of The Forum On China–Africa Cooperation – Joint Press Conference at the Great Hall of the 
People. Image: Getty, Lintao Zhang
Chinese President Xi Jingping (C) with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa (L) attend the 2018 Beijing Summit Of The Forum On China–Africa Cooperation – Joint Press Conference at the Great Hall of the People. Image: Getty, Lintao Zhang

African countries have an opportunity to embark on more interconnected trade in the wake of the new African Continental Free Trade Area.

Summary:

  • The establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area represents a major step towards greater economic integration and trade on the continent.
  • China’s Belt and Road Initiative is the centerpiece of China’s foreign policy. While its parameters are somewhat unclear, it has the potential to boost economic growth in the Global South.
  • There are significant opportunities for dovetailing between the African Continental Free Trade Area and the Belt and Road Initiative, which will be a key theme at the Forum on China–Africa Cooperation summit in 2021.
  • While China has an incentive to tap into the trade benefits offered by the AfCFTA, African countries will have to guard against their markets being flooded by cheap Chinese goods.
  • The African Union and African governments will need to adopt a more coordinated approach if they are to derive value from the opportunities presented by the Belt and Road Initiative, while also avoiding its risks.

20 Jul 2021