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Building solid ties
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 20 - 09 - 2018

The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) began 18 years ago and is today recognised as a crucial model of successful economic cooperation between China and Africa. The trade volume between China and Africa reached $160 billion in 2017 compared to around $10 billion in 2000 largely thanks to efforts propelled by the FOCAC.
In this context Egypt's participation in the 2018 edition of the forum, taking place in Beijing last week, was of special political and economic importance. It built on the remarkable efforts made during Egypt's chairmanship of the Group of 77 and China (G-77/China) in favour of supporting economic development, and it paves the way towards its presidency of the African Union (AU) in 2019.
Ahead of the forum, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to advance the China-Egypt Comprehensive Strategic Partnership for Development. Egypt considers the partnership with China to be a priority in boosting South-South cooperation and balancing the power configurations in the international order at the political, economic and strategic levels. China views Egypt as a gateway to Africa and an important partner in the development of its Belt and Road Initiative linking China to the Mediterranean across Asia.
Egypt and China share a common vision of win-win cooperation and of increasing the representation of developing countries in the international order. China is the largest developing country today and is recognised as the world's second-largest economy and one of the major drivers of trade and investment in the globalised economy. The African continent, of which Egypt is a vital part, represents a bloc of developing countries and is taking progressive steps towards achieving the goals of the AU Agenda 2063 and the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
In this context, fostering closer economic and political ties between China and Egypt is necessary for furthering development on the African continent and will result in creating a more competitive political and economic bloc. Moreover, Egypt will benefit from the trade and investment opportunities provided by the vast Chinese market of 1.4 billion people. It is crucial to consider their consumer preferences and to integrate more advanced techniques into Egyptian production to promote demand for Egyptian exports.
Egypt's presidency of the AU in 2019 will also assist in the development of the Belt and Road Initiative since Egypt was one of the first countries to support it on its launch in 2013, seeing its importance for promoting economic growth and development regionally and internationally. The initiative aims to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient Silk Roads trade routes, and it will aid in furthering cooperation between China and Africa.
This will be a win-win situation since the African continent will benefit from advanced technologies and innovation as well as the exchange of expertise in fields such as healthcare, education, and renewable energies together with infrastructure development. In return, China will benefit hugely from investing further in Africa's rich natural and human resources.
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The writer is coordinator of international relations at the Faculty of Economics and Political Science at Cairo University.


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