President Xi Jinping’s five-day trip to Africa comes as the continent suffers more than anywhere else from China’s slowing economic growth and an associated rout in the value of the region’s commodities exports.
Trade between the two slumped 18 percent in the first nine months of 2015 from a year earlier, the largest decline in China’s trade with the world’s continents, according to China’s commerce ministry.
Xi arrived Tuesday in Zimbabwe, where he’ll meet President Robert Mugabe, before traveling to South Africa to co-chair a two-day summit in Johannesburg between China and African nations. He also will meet South Africa President Jacob Zuma.
China-Africa trade is under pressure, but that’s a temporary phenomenon induced by plunging commodity prices, China’s Vice Commerce Minister Qian Keming said at a press briefing last week. The quantity of products including crude oil, manganese, copper, cobalt ore and other energy and resource products that China imports from Africa hasn’t declined, he said. Sino-Africa imports and exports totaled $222 billion last year.
The Republic of Congo, Angola and Mauritania are African nations most exposed to China’s slowdown because almost half of their exports go to the Asian nation, according to data from the International Monetary Fund. Oil accounts for the bulk of exports from Congo and Angola, while iron ore makes up more than 40 percent of Mauritania’s exports.