Before the outbreak of COVID-19, China-Africa economic and trade cooperation was already facing adjustments in many areas. Under the epidemic, what are the development opportunities and adjustment space for China-Africa economic and trade cooperation? On August 31, the press conference of "African Yellow Book: Africa Development Report NO.23" (hereinafter referred to as "Report") jointly organized by the Institute of West Asia and Africa of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the Chinese Academy of African Studies and the Social Sciences Literature Press, Focus on this topic.
COVID-19 has brought some impacts on economic cooperation between China and Africa. However, the "Report" believes that the existing cooperation between the two sides has a good foundation, but it is necessary to increase cooperation opportunities and improve cooperation conditions from the perspective of innovative development under the changes in the external environment. Both parties can achieve sustainable economic and social development through stable investment cooperation. Specifically, the "Report" gives the following feasible strategies.
Make good use of the platform of the 8th Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation. Taking the 2021 Forum on China-Africa Cooperation as an opportunity, we will gather the wisdom of all parties to review the progress of the "Forum on China-Africa Cooperation-Beijing Action Plan (2019-2021)". Timely summarization of experience, assessment and analysis of the follow-up situation of the project that failed to complete as scheduled, provides support for the effective advancement of China-Africa cooperation and enhances the confidence of all parties in cooperation. At the same time, it is necessary to explore the mechanism of turning pressure into motivation, reduce the negative impact of the new crown pneumonia epidemic on China-Africa economic and trade cooperation, shorten the economic recovery cycle, and try to avoid the impact of improper trade or investment protection policies on relevant parties.
Strengthen effective cooperation between China and Africa in the field of public health. Continue to promote China-Africa cooperation in the field of health and public health through various channels such as the joint construction of the "Belt and Road". It is necessary to speed up the improvement of the public health system against the background of the epidemic response, increase the efficiency of the detection and disposal of the epidemic, and gain time to prevent the spread of the epidemic and reduce the widespread impact of the epidemic on the economy and society through efficient and accurate information exchange. The joint development and improvement of vaccines and specific medicines will strengthen mutual cooperation, increase the consumption capacity of relevant medical materials in various countries, and promote people-to-people communication. In the field of public health, China and Africa should also strengthen human resource training and capacity building to improve sustainable development capabilities.
Expand the collaborative innovation space of China-Africa industrial development model. In the context of the long period of the new crown pneumonia epidemic, China-Africa collaboration will provide better conditions for industrial model innovation such as e-commerce, online education, medical services, and Internet finance. Encourage pilot cooperation among regions, strengthen government actions in areas such as consumer protection, risk prevention and control, and market standards and regulations, so as to obtain new business model development dividends while reducing possible negative impacts, and promote sustainable business development. Cultivate enterprises in the new economic field, encourage enterprises to enhance their competitiveness through intellectual cultivation and technological innovation, open up new markets and effectively respond to consumer needs.
Take active measures to stabilize investor confidence. The epidemic has led to a sharp decline in global investment, which has a huge impact on host countries and investors. We should try our best to avoid adopting a "nationalist" or "protectionist" attitude towards foreign investment due to the economic downturn. We should create a stable environment for investors both at the level of laws and regulations and in actual actions. Both China and Africa should create new market space through cooperation and avoid simple redistribution of benefits in the form of "cutting the cake". In the face of the prolonged impact of the epidemic, in addition to providing investors with financial support such as tax reductions and fee reductions, more measures can be explored to attract investors in terms of cross-border flow of personnel and funds and market opening.
Give full play to the role of institutional arrangements in economic and trade agreements. The entry into force of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement may create a better environment for the coordinated economic development of the African region. However, all parties have still not been able to give full play to the synergistic dividends created by the Free Trade Agreement, and the efficiency of cross-border flow of elements is not high enough. In addition to increasing the utilization rate of bilateral free trade agreements (such as the China-Mauritius Free Trade Agreement), China and Africa can also explore various forms and levels of institutional arrangements. On the one hand, it is possible to speed up the negotiation and signing of agreements that can meet their respective development and cooperation needs; on the other hand, a good interaction and coordination mechanism should be formed through capacity building to provide intellectual and practical support for the upgrading, expansion and innovation of the agreement.
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