Rwanda and South Africa Sign Deals With China and India Before BRICS Summit

Xi Jinping Arrives in Johannesburg, South Africa for BRICS Summit

July 24, 2018

China’s President Xi Jinping arrived in South Africa today for a bilateral meeting President Cyril Ramaphosa, to be followed by the July 25-27 Tenth BRICS Summit. As is his custom, Xi wrote an op-ed in the local press before his arrival, titled “For a New Era of China-South Africa Friendship.” In it, Xi began by emphasizing that “Our peoples forged a deep friendship during our common struggle against imperialism, colonialism and racism.” He then wrote:

“Over the past six years, our two countries have worked closely as co-chairs of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) to advance the comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership between China and Africa. Our bilateral ties have thus served as a model for China-Africa relations, for South-South cooperation, and for unity and cooperation among emerging market countries, and offered valuable experience for building an even stronger community with a shared future between China and Africa and a new type of international relations
featuring mutual respect, fairness and justice, and win-win cooperation….

“We must strive for new outcomes in our practical cooperation. We need to promote complementarity between our development strategies, and make full use of bilateral mechanisms, FOCAC-(Forum on China-Africa Cooperation), the Belt and Road Initiative, BRICS cooperation, and other platforms to deepen cooperation in key areas such as industries, production capacity, resources and energy, infrastructure, finance, tourism, and digital economy and deliver more benefits to our peoples.”

On the bilateral front, South African President Ramaphosa announced that the two countries signed “several agreements and memorandums of understanding that are intended to further deepen our relations, including investment commitments that have been struck to the value of $14.7 billion.”

Xi Jinping and Rwanda’s Kagame Sign Multiple Agreements Strengthening Belt and Road Cooperation

Chinese President Xi Jinping met on July 23 with Rwandan President Paul Kagame on the third leg of his tour of Africa and the Middle East, which so far has taken him to the U.A.E. and Senegal. Xi travelled to South Africa today (for the July 25-27 BRICS summit), and he will then stop in the Indian Ocean island-nation of Mauritius on the way back to China.

Xinhua reported that “after their talks, the two heads of state witnessed the signing of multiple agreements on bilateral cooperation in the Belt and Road Initiative and other areas.”

In the meeting with Kagame, Xi stated, according to Xinhua, that “Beijing is willing to work with Kigali to translate their traditional friendship into concrete benefits for the two countries and the two peoples, and open a new chapter in their friendly cooperative relations.” As he has done on his other stops, Xi called on the two countries to “strengthen the link between their respective development strategies, give full play to their complementary advantages, and …cooperation in more areas and at deeper levels.”

Xi told Kagame, Xinhua wrote, that “China welcomes Rwanda’s participation in the international cooperation within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, and encourages more Chinese investment in Rwanda to help advance its industrialization and modernization.” Xi also talked about broader China-Africa relations, which “have always been defined by sincere friendship, unity and cooperation. The two sides have become a community with a shared future going through thick and thin together as well as a community with shared interests dedicated to win-win cooperation.”

Kagame, for his part, called China “a reliable friend who shares weal and woe with Africa. Kegame said it is of great importance for Rwanda and Africa to develop friendly ties with China. He spoke highly of China’s valuable assistance for Rwanda in such areas as infrastructure construction, agriculture and education, adding that China’s helping hand has made positive contributions to his country’s reconstruction and livelihood improvement.”

Xinhua further said that Kagame emphasized that “Rwanda is willing to enhance cooperation with China within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, which offers a significant opportunity for both Rwanda and Africa. As the [African Union] AU’s rotating chairman, Kagame stressed that China’s long-standing firm support is of great value to Africa’s development. The African side, he said, looks forward to attending the Beijing summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in September, and stands ready to jointly push forward the development of FOCAC, so as to generate more benefits for the people of both sides.”

Modi in Rwanda Witnesses Signing of Economic and Defense Agreements

On his way to attend the 10th anniversary BRICS Summit over July 25-27 in Johannesburg, South Africa, the Indian Premier, Narendra Modi, stopped in Rwanda and, along with Rwandan President Paul Kagame, witnessed the signing of seven bilateral pacts at Village Urugwiro, the President’s office in Kigali, by Indian and Rwandan officials, reported Rwanda’s {New Times}.

Prime Minister Modi is the first Indian head of government to visit the East African nation, which is considered an important gateway for India to eastern Africa. Modi is on a three-nation tour, beginning with Rwanda and Uganda, and thence to Johannesburg for the BRICS summit. He arrived in Rwanda just as Chinese President Xi Jinpig was leaving that country.

Agreements in the area of trade, defense, dairy cooperation, agriculture, culture, leather and allied sectors and two lines of credit worth $200 million for expansion of the special economic zone and irrigation scheme were signed, IANS reported.

“During the talks, both leaders reviewed the entire gamut of bilateral cooperation and expressed satisfaction at the excellent relations between Rwanda and India in the overall context of Strategic Partnership,” India’s Foreign Ministry stated. Ties between India and Rwanda were elevated to the level of  Strategic Partnership in January last year, IANS reported.

West Wants Only Quick Bucks From Africa, While China Invests for Win-Win Cooperation

‘West wants only quick buck from Africa, while China invests for win-win cooperation’

Below are excerpts from an interview that I did with RT on the significance of the trip by China President, Xi Jinping to Africa this week. I also commented on the dramatically different policy approach that China has towards Africa, than that of the United States. The past several US administrations have failed to construct a strategic policy to assist African nations in developing their economies.

'West wants only quick buck from Africa, while China invests for win-win cooperation'

Chinese President Xi Jinping is on a trip to Africa in a bid to establish deeper trade ties. On Monday, he arrived in South Africa for a state visit, which will be followed later this week by his participation in the 10th BRICS summit in Johannesburg. Earlier, the Chinese leader visited Rwanda and Senegal, which is the first West-African country to be involved in China’s “Belt and Road” infrastructure project.

Beijing has been expanding its presence in Africa in recent years, investing $39 billion in the continent in 2017.

Political analysts told RT that countries in Africa are turning to China because of US government policies.

RT: What do you think Xi Jinping will be hoping to get from his tour of Africa?

City view of Bahrain's capital Manama © Hamad I Mohammed

Lawrence Freeman: I think this is an indication by President Xi of how important they view their collaboration with Africa. He is going to be visiting four countries and they are going to end up at the BRICS Summit in South Africa. This is a continuation for the last several years of the ‘Belt and Road’ policy in Africa. And it has been a real boost for African development policies, especially in the areas of infrastructure, energy, roads and rail. And this indicates that they are going to continue along that policy for sure.

RT: Do you think China’s interests in Africa are purely economic or are they also about greater geopolitical influence?

LF: China, especially under this president, has a view of a win-win cooperation, that countries can work together for the common benefit of a mankind, that they will benefit from economic cooperation. The African countries certainly will. There has been no infrastructure built in Africa since the colonial period. The West refused, the US state has refused, Europe has refused. So, China building its infrastructure which you see in Kenya, in Nigeria, Ethiopia and other places, this is a real positive step for the development of Africa. And I think the Chinese want to help Africa. They will make money, of course. The Africans will improve their economies. And the people’s standard of living will improve and hopefully we’ll eliminate the poverty in Africa.

RT: Many Western countries are wary of investing in Africa due to instability and security problems. But China doesn’t seem to have been put off by these concerns. Why is that the case?

LF: China under this president has a vision for the future. They develop themselves and they develop their neighbors and they develop other countries around the world. So, the whole concept of the ‘Belt and Road’ is counter to geopolitical thinking, it is countries working together, they call it win-win. And the problem is that the West has no vision for development of Africa, has refused to develop Africa, so therefore they attack Africa, they complain about Africa’s loan, they complain about the debt. The debt under Western countries, the IMF and the World Bank far exceeds anything that the Chinese have in terms of debt with African countries. So, the West has to get over their problems, get over the geopolitical thinking, stop demonizing China and actually if the president was intelligent in this question, he would join the ‘Belt and Road’ because if China and the US joined together, we could transform the continent and eliminate the poverty and hunger. And that is what I am trying to do.

The US influence on Africa was already dwindling well before Trump came into the play. And it will continue to dwindle because of some of his comments, his attitude towards Africans, and his position on Africa in general. He is only interested in military bases. And Africans, I am afraid, are very much interested in partnership and those who take them seriously. And like a liberalized continent, it is voting with its feet and it is changing the US in every sector, that I know of, in favor of the Chinese. And China already had a huge presence and influence and that influence has just grown to levels for which even if the Americans were to try now unlikely to ever catch the Chinese in my lifetime. – Ayo Johnson, journalist & founder of Viewpoint Africa

The US has a very small outlook towards Africa and the rest of the world. They do not want to invest in the infrastructure, which is a long-term investment but it improves the entire economy. And they haven’t. The basic attitude of the US… is to make money, to make double-digit profits overnight. They are not interested in the long-term development of a country. That is why the US and the West built no railroads, they were built with China’s help, China has built the new hydro-energy plants, China has built new ports. And there are many more things that they are working on across Africa. So, the problem is that the West is not really thinking how to develop this continent, they are thinking in terms of how to make some fast bucks…

Forum on China-Africa Cooperation: Win for Africa’s Development

It’s Time for Africa

Alignment with China’s development vision heralds a new era of opportunity on the continent

By He Wenping- JULY 5, 2018

A Chinese engineer collaborates with Kenyan workers on the construction of the Mombasa-Nairobi Railway on April 9, 2016 (XINHUA)

As agreed by both China and Africa, China will host the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) this September. Wang Yi, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister, made the announcement on the sidelines of the Meeting of BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs in South Africa on June 4.

The upcoming summit will be themed Win-Win Cooperation and Join Hands to Build a Closer Community with a Shared Future for China and Africa. Wang said China and Africa will endeavor to integrate the Belt and Road Initiative, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development of the UN, the Agenda 2063 of the African Union (AU) and the development strategies of various African nations to create more opportunities for mutually beneficial cooperation, and to open up new prospects for common development.

The First FOCAC Summit was held in Beijing in 2006, and 12 years on leaders from China and Africa will once again gather in Beijing to usher in a new era of Sino-African cooperation. This summit, the third in FOCAC’s 18-year history, demonstrates the value that China places on Sino-African ties and promises to drive the China-Africa friendship to new historic heights.

Proactive attitude

Since Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed the Belt and Road Initiative five years ago, more than 100 countries and international organizations around the world have shown interest, of which more than 80 have signed cooperation agreements with China involving Belt and Road projects. The initiative, consisting of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road, aims to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along and beyond the trade routes of the ancient Silk Road.

Africa is a continent rich in resources with great market potential, but it is in dire need of robust infrastructure. It is proactively participating in Belt and Road construction with other countries along the routes in the hope that its economy can make a leap.

As Wang said when he visited Africa in January, the African continent must be at the heart of the Belt and Road Initiative and must not be left behind by China or the wider world in terms of development.

FOCAC was established in October 2000, 13 years prior to the proposal of the Belt and Road Initiative. China pursues common, intensive, safe, open and green development in its cooperation with African countries, which neatly dovetails with its commitment to innovative, coordinated, green and open development that is for everyone at home. Nearly 18 years of evolution have established FOCAC as a symbol of international cooperation, which allows the organization to provide precious experience to the Belt and Road construction across different regions and fields.

Advancing interconnection

Inadequate infrastructure is a bottleneck that constrains Africa’s economic development. Poor transport facilities and substandard roads have created exorbitant costs in domestic and regional trade, as well as impeding foreign investment.

Financing for Africa’s infrastructure needs faces an annual shortfall of at least $20 billion. In addition, most African countries have a low level of industrialization, and the contribution of industry to their economies is correspondingly small. However, Africa is a continent with abundant resources, low labor costs and great market potential, while China has significant advantages in capital, technology and equipment, as well as a wealth of experience in transforming from an agricultural to an industrial society. At a time when China is undergoing a fundamental phase of economic transition and upgrading, there is plenty of high-quality capacity and advanced equipment and technology available for outward transfer, much of which is ideally suited to Africa’s needs.

Just as the Chinese people harbor the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation, the African people hold the African dream of achieving development and alleviating poverty. Connectivity and industrialization are essential preconditions and the only path toward the realization of this dream. The Belt and Road Initiative can work in harmony with Africa’s development strategy for the 21st century. It can provide new drive for the sustainable development of Sino-African relations and help Africa take a step forward, blazing a new trail for South-South cooperation.

China and the AU signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on infrastructure construction cooperation on January 27, 2015. According to the MOU, under the strategic framework of Africa’s 2063 Agenda, China will enhance cooperation with African nations on railways, highways, regional airlines and industrialization to promote African integration. Chinese enterprises have already launched construction projects in these fields in countries such as Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya and Nigeria.

For example, the Huajian Group, a shoe producer from Dongguan in south China’s Guangdong Province, began operating in the Ethiopia Oriental Industrial Park at the end of 2011. By the end of 2017, Huajian had become the largest private Chinese investor in Ethiopia, generating $122 million of foreign exchange income and creating 7,500 new jobs for the local population. The company produces over 5 million pairs of women’s shoes each year, accounting for more than 65 percent of the Ethiopian shoe industry’s total exports. On September 1, 2017, the Ethiopian Government awarded Zhang Huarong, Chairman of the Board of the Huajian Group, the honorary title of “Father of Ethiopia’s Industry” for his contribution to the country’s development. Inspired by its success in Ethiopia, the Huajian Group plans to invest in Rwanda, Nigeria and elsewhere in Africa in the future.

The China-built Nyerere Bridge, linking the business area of Tanzania’s largest city Dar es Salaam to the Kigamboni district across the Kurasini creek, is the largest cable-stayed cross-sea bridge in sub-Saharan Africa (XINHUA)

Driving force

At the FOCAC Johannesburg Summit in South Africa in December 2015, China and participating African countries agreed to carry out 10 major cooperation plans in the following three years. The ultra-intensive plans, worth around $60 billion, cover industrialization, agricultural modernization, infrastructure construction, finance, green development, trade and investment facilitation, poverty alleviation, public health, people-to-people exchanges, and peace and security. The foremost of these is cooperation on industrialization to promote the progress of African development. In order to facilitate this, the first China-Africa Capacity Cooperation Fund—worth $10 billion—has been set up, alongside the Special Loan for the Development of African Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises and the China-Africa Development Fund each with a capital of $5 billion.

Industrial cooperation between China and Africa has already begun to bear fruit. As one of the first African countries to join China in international industrialization cooperation, Tanzania has signed a framework agreement with China on supporting key projects of the country’s ongoing five-year plan.

The construction of infrastructure and industrial parks is also making rapid progress. China has assisted Africa in building several railway lines, including one connecting the port city of Mombasa in Kenya to its capital Nairobi, another connecting Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, to Djibouti, and a third connecting Angola and Nigeria.

As Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said at the opening ceremony of the Mombasa-Nairobi Railway on May 31, 2017, the new line is “one of the cornerstones to Kenya’s journey of transformation to an industrial, prosperous and middle-income country.”

The author is a researcher with the Institute of West Asian and African Studies, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and a senior researcher with the Charhar Institute

 

China and US Should Jointly Partner with Africa to Transform the Continent

It has been my firm belief for several years that, if China and the US jointly partnered with African nations, we can eliminate poverty and hunger across the continent. Development of Africa is not a “zero sum game.” Africa’s infrastructure deficit is estimated in the trillions of dollars for energy, rail, ports, roads, new waterways, and much more. There is no part of Africa that could not be developed, if the two largest economies worked with African nations. China’s Belt and Road Initiative is an excellent vehicle for such collaboration between Presidents Xi, and Trump. Below is a useful article reporting on US and Chines companies working together in Africa

AFRICA IN FOCUS

“American companies and Chinese Belt and Road in Africa”

Yun Sun 

“When it comes to Africa, it is no secret that the United States and China have very different philosophies. China adopts a more state-led approach, with state-owned enterprises and policy banks spearheading Africa’s infrastructure development. The U.S. is more willing to let private companies and the market take the lead on commercial development, while the U.S. government itself puts more emphasis on the continent’s capacity building and governance challenges…

“As China expands its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in Africa, government-level U.S.-China cooperation in Africa continues to be scarce. However, this trend contrasts sharply with the growing collaboration between Chinese and American companies in infrastructure projects on the continent. Indeed, although the Chinese projects and financing have the tradition of favoring Chinese contractors and providers, the technical advantages of some American companies have made them the beneficiary of the Chinese BRI campaign…”

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Europe Must Address Poverty in Africa to Deal With Migration Crisis


Illustration: Luo Xuan/GT

The just-concluded EU Summit on migration has come up with measures like securing centers for migrants to process asylum claims, strengthening external border controls, and boosting financing for Turkey and countries in North Africa. But these are old solutions to old problems.

Since 2015, the EU has been working at full capacity to overcome the migration crisis. EU member states received over 1.2 million first-time asylum applications in 2015, more than double that of the previous year. But it seems that the European continent is still working in the same old way to try to prevent the entry of immigrants and not to address the causes of migration. Even if we assume these measures bring success in reducing immigration for some time, the EU will later be surprised when migrants use other means and methods to migrate, because the causes of migration still exist.

The root of migration is poverty. The African continent has suffered occupation and war for many decades. Many African countries have not yet been able to achieve the path of reform and development. This has put the people of these countries under unbearable pressure from poverty, ignorance and disease. They have pushed themselves into the abyss and tried to cross the border to reach Europe. They have faced danger and horror, believing a chance at a better future is worth dying for, if necessary.

With the emergence of the new system of globalization, the world became a small village and Africans opened their eyes to the luxury and good life enjoyed by Europeans, which inspired them to move to these countries. The majority of people from African countries continue to blame European countries for their backwardness and believe they should shoulder their responsibilities toward Africa. As a result of the failure of European countries to play the role that the African people were waiting for, these masses migrated to Europe to try to gain these rights. Europe, when dealing with refugees, looks at them from a perspective of human logic or empathy and does not view migration as a symptom of a disease. European countries must change their thinking and strategy to deal with the disease in order to make the causes of migration disappear.

It is time for Europe to look at the Chinese experience in Africa. The Chinese policy has  always focused on development. Economic relations between Africa and China have grown enormously, especially since 2006. The African continent is playing an important role in the Belt and Road initiative. China provides infrastructure funding and a workforce, and this infrastructure allows Africa to increase its production and exports, improving the quality of life and improving the conditions of millions of Africans.

Hope is the solution. The people of the African continent need hope. At least this last summit has come out with some words about more investment in Africa to help the continent achieve a substantial socio-economic transformation. China has been focusing on African development for a long time and has seen the results. The EU should work closely with China to push for the B&R to fight poverty in Africa and promote development. (emphasis added)

He Wenping is a senior research fellow at the Charhar Institute in China, and Hisham Abu Bakr Metwally is the first economist researcher at the Central Department for Export & Import Policy under the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Trade and Industry. bizopinion@globaltimes.com.cn

 

Interview With Lawrence Freeman: The Time is Now For TRANSAQUA-to Save Lake Chad and Transform Africa

Transaqua is an inter-basin water project to transfer a sufficient flow of water from the tributaries of the Congo River to restore Lake Chad from its current diminutive size of 1500-2500 square kilometers to its 1963 level of 25,000 square kilometers. The Transaqua design is to create a navigable 2,400-kilometer canal that by gravity will deliver between 50 to 100 billion cubic meters of water to the Chari River in the Central African Republic, which is the primary tributary to Lake Chad. The channel will be created through a series of dams of the tributaries to the right of the Congo River.

Transaqua, the brainchild of Dr. Marcello Vichi of the Italian Bonifica engineering firm, was first proposed almost 40 years ago. Its unique feature lies beyond refurbishing Lake Chad, in restoring economic growth to the poor people living in the Lake Chad Basin This mega-project will create a super economic zone of trade and commerce between all the nations of the Congo river and Lake Chad Basins; potentially affecting one third of the entire African continent. In addition to the generation of desperately needed hydro-electric power, new roads will be built, new manufacturing-agricultural centers will be created, new fisheries will develop, and food production will expand with an additional 40,000 hectares of irrigated land.” Source: Lawrence Freeman

Africanagenda: Hello Mr Freeman, thank you for joining us today to discuss the Transaqua Project.

You are very well informed on this subject and since 2014 have been the Vice Chairman of the Lake Chad Scientific Committee. Earlier this year you spoke in Abuja, Nigeria at the International Conference on Saving Lake Chad. Could you tell us about the sense of optimism that this project is bringing to Africans? I believe this was a dream of Ghana`s President Kwame Nkrumah, that the Sahara Desert could bloom.

 

Heads of State of the Lake Chad Basin nations sign Abuja accord

L. Freeman :The endorsement of the Transaqua inter-basin water transfer project at the International Conference to Save Lake Chad held in Abuja from February 26-28 was a milestone for the entire African continent. Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari deserves credit for initiating this conference and his support over many years to recharge Lake Chad. This project would be the largest infrastructure project in Africa connecting a dozen African nations in a super economic zone of development. The Transaqua proposal has been known for several decades, but it was only at the Abuja conference that the Heads of States of the nations of the Lake Chad Basin Commission- (LCBC) officially decided to explore the feasibility of the inter-basin water transfer project. As a result of the conference, approximately $3.6 million will be allocated for the first ever feasibility study of Transaqua to be conducted jointly by PowerChina and Bonifica.

As the news of the success of this conference held in Africa spreads, it will create a wave of optimism across the continent. One reason is that African leaders are thinking big with a vision for the future, having taken it upon themselves to discuss and support such a transformative infrastructure project.

The Sahara Desert, the largest in the world-the size of the continental United States- can bloom if it has water. The loss of lake Chad, the largest body of water in the desert would be a catastrophe not just for those living in the Lake Chad Basin, but for the entire continent, and implicitly the world. Therefore, I am optimistic that the Abuja conference will be a turning point for Africa.

Africanagenda: Transaqua is unique.It is it the largest engineering project ever proposed and as the largest infrastructure project in the world it has the potential to radically transform the economy of the continent`s interior, not just in terms of agriculture but through industry. Could you explain to our readers how transformative Transaqua will be?

L.Freeman: The land area of all the nations that would be affected by Transaqua equals approximately one third of the African continent. The inter-basin water transfer project would create a navigable canal that would facilitate a new level of trade and commerce between the nations of the two basins: Congo River; and Lake Chad. Resulting in an increase in farming, manufacturing, fishing, electrical power, roads, and other related infrastructure.

Thanks in part to China’s New Silk road, African nations are presently engaged in the most intense level of development of infrastructure, most especially in new railways that potentially could cross the continent from Djibouti to Dakar. Plus progress is being made on several East-West highways that would also connect to South-North routes crossing the Sahara Desert.

image: The Schiller Institute

The combined effect of the completion of these infrastructure projects would create an economic renaissance for Africa that portends the elimination of poverty and hunger for hundreds of millions of Africans.

If you look at a map of Africa, you will see that Transaqua will travel northwest from the southeast corner of the Democratic Republic of the Congo through the Central African Republic, thus intersecting the East to West network of new railways and highways. The combined effect of the completion of these infrastructure projects would create an economic renaissance for Africa that portends the elimination of poverty and hunger for hundreds of millions of Africans.

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Western Institutions Need to be Reformed

Major western political and financial institutions are in serious trouble. The Group of Seven and Wall Street are part of the old geo-political order that should be replaced by institutions that represent the “common interest” of all nations and all people. China’s Belt and Road Initiative is providing a new framework for strategic relations among nations

The steady demise of the Group of Seven

OPINIONS
By William Jones
2018-06-07

Editor’s note: William Jones is the Washington Bureau Chief for the Executive Intelligence Review, and Non-resident Senior Fellow of Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China. The article reflects the author’s opinion, and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

The failure of the G7 to resolve the 2008 financial blowout has given the lie to the “acumen” of these seven countries in keeping the economy on an even keel. With the trillions of dollars that were spent to bail out those “too big to fail” investment bank, the “bubble” has simply gotten bigger – and more dangerous.

And for most of the world, the G7 has simply been considered something of an “old boys’ club”, kept intact for the sole purpose of maintaining their positions – and that of the “moneyed interests” in power.

The lame attempt at integrating Russia into the G7 “club”, at least into their political discussions, lasted only a short amount of time before it was rescinded.

But the G7 no longer has the same weight it once had. The growing weight of the Asia-Pacific region, and particularly, China, has significantly reduced the clout of the G7 nations in world markets, and in world affairs. And the sorry state of the European economy, with the Brexit and the crisis in Italy, has critically undermined the “European factor” in the G7.

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WaPo Warns of “Mother of All Credit Bubbles:” Who’s Listening?

June 12, 2018—An extraordinary article by regular financial columnist Steven Pearlstein in the June 10 Washington Post warned that a surge in corporate debt has created “the mother of all credit bubbles,” and put the U.S. (and world) financial systems on the road to a new crash worse than that of 2007-8. The full-page spread featured charts showing that corporate debt, much of which is being used for stock buybacks, is increasingly risky, and that it is at record highs. Pearlstein adds that one in five companies have debt obligations exceeding their cash flow—i.e., they are zombies just waiting to die.

WaPo Warns of "Mother of All Credit Bubbles:" Who's Listening?

Washington Post on June 10, 2018

Much of what Pearlstein reports is not new to readers of more reliable financial reporters, such as Nomi Prins, Pam and Russ Martens, and others. This blog has reported on previous warnings by the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Financial Research, which Pearlstein mentions, and by former FDIC officials Thomas Hoenig and Sheila Bair. Pearlstein also does not stress, for example, the link between the new shaky mountain of debt, and the major banks, which are intimately connected to the so-called “non-bank lenders” involved in the current bubbles.

But Pearlstein’s summary of the current problem is sharp, and ironically, points implicitly at the solution. He writes: “Today’s economic boom is driven not by any great burst of innovation or growth in productivity. Rather, it is driven by another round of financial engineering that converts equity into debt… Rather than using record profits, and record amounts of borrowed money, to invest in new plants and equipment, develop new products, improve service, lower prices or raise the wages and skills of their employees, they are `returning’ that money to shareholders. Corporate America, in effect, has transformed itself into one giant leveraged buyout.”

How to reverse this process? We need the policies that do the opposite: that promote growth in productivity (credit for a revolutionized infrastructure and scientific frontiers), and convert debt into equity—specifically in the way that Alexander Hamilton transformed the debt of the fledgling United States into capital for the First National Bank. After taking away the rewards and incentives for speculative borrowing (by re-imposing Glass-Steagall), we need a new National Bank for Infrastructure into which certain categories of solid debt (such as Treasury and municipal bonds) can be traded in for capital stock, which will serve as the foundation for an investment boom in the real economy.

Is anyone in Congress or the Administration listening? When the mainstream media puts out a signal like this, continued inaction on the measures before them is foolish, if not insane

Chinese Economic Engagement in Africa: New Silk Road on the Continent

“The closest look yet at Chinese economic engagement in Africa”

June 2017
The closest look yet at Chinese economic engagement in Africa

Field interviews with more than 1,000 Chinese companies provide new insights into Africa–China business relationships.

In two decades, China has become Africa’s most important economic partner. Across trade, investment, infrastructure financing, and aid, no other country has such depth and breadth of engagement in Africa. Chinese “dragons”—firms of all sizes and sectors—are bringing capital investment, management know-how, and entrepreneurial energy to every corner of the continent. In doing so they are helping to accelerate the progress of Africa’s economies.

Yet to date it has been challenging to understand the true extent of the Africa–China economic relationship due to a paucity of data. Our new report, Dance of the lions and dragons: How are Africa and China engaging, and how will the partnership evolve?, provides a comprehensive, fact-based picture of the Africa–China economic relationship based on a new large-scale data set. This includes on-site interviews with more than 100 senior African business and government leaders, as well as the owners or managers of more than 1,000 Chinese firms spread across eight African countries1that together make up approximately two-thirds of sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP.

Africa’s largest economic partner

In the past two decades, China has catapulted from being a relatively small investor in the continent to becoming Africa’s largest economic partner. And since the turn of the millennium, Africa–China trade has been growing at approximately 20 percent per year. Foreign direct investment has grown even faster over the past decade, with a breakneck annual growth rate of 40 percent.2Yet even this number understates the true picture: we found that China’s financial flows to Africa are around 15 percent larger than official figures when nontraditional flows are included. China is also a large and fast-growing source of aid and the largest source of construction financing; these contributions have supported many of Africa’s most ambitious infrastructure developments in recent years.

We evaluated Africa’s economic partnerships with the rest of the world across five dimensions: trade, investment stock, investment growth, infrastructure financing, and aid. China is among the top four partners for Africa across all these dimensions (Exhibit 1). No other country matches this depth and breadth of engagement.

Africa’s economic partners, including China, India, France, the United States, and Germany, based on goods trade, foreign direct investment, aid, and infrastructure financing

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China’s Progress and ‘Belt and Road’: New Global Dynamic

“When China Eliminates Poverty in 2020, Beijing Will Have Proved That the Developing World Doesn’t Need US “Aid”

June 3, 2018

“No country in history has lifted as large a number of people out of poverty as China has done, beginning in the late 20th century. At the turn of the 1980s, over 88% of all Chinese were living in poverty according to the international definition of having an average daily income of $1.90 or less. Today, China’s poverty rate hovers around 2% of the entire population or 30 million people. This poverty is now entirely confined to rural areas. By contrast, in the United States, poverty while mostly in rural areas, is also spread among impoverished inner-cities…

“While some remain skeptical about China’s ability to eliminate poverty by the end of 2020, the record clearly shows that when it comes to tackling issues of extreme poverty in an extremely short period of time, China is not only able to achieve its goals but is able to do so in ways that put other countries to shame. While the poverty rate in the US has stagnated for decades, with the rate being 12.4% at the end of the 1970s with a slight increase to 13.7% at the end of the 1980s, China has dramatically gone from a state of near total poverty to the brink of eliminating all poverty in that same period.

“With China lifting an average of 13 million people out of poverty each year in the last five years, President Xi’s goal of progressively eliminating poverty for 10 million rural poor each year until poverty is fully eliminated at the turn of 2021, is ultimately a realistic goal, albeit one with seismic implications.”

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African Countries Meet On Using Yuan as Reserve Currency

May 30, 2018–A meeting of seventeen central bank and government officials from 14 countries in eastern and southern Africa met in Harare, Zimbabwe on May 29-30 to discuss the possibility of using the yuan as a reserve currency, Xinhua reported on May 29. The meeting was sponsored by the Macroeconomic and Financial Management Institute of Eastern and Southern Africa (MEFMI). They quote Gladys Siwela-Jadagu, spokesperson for MEFMI, saying that most MEFMI countries have received loans or grants from China and it would “make economic sense” to repay them in yuan. She said that the yuan has become a ‘common currency’ in trade with Africa.    Xinhua notes that China’s trade with South Africa surged by 14.7 percent on a yearly basis in the first four months this year

UN Official Lauds Belt and Road as `Grand Design for the Future’

May 29, 2018 — UN Under-Secretary Shamshad Akhtar, speaking to {China Daily} May 28, praised the Belt and Road Initiative of infrastructure great projects as “an initiative on a more integrated frame, [and] of a scale, that no one has talked about before.” Akhtar is executive secretary of the UN’s Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific.

“China leads the regional cooperation and the integration of Asia, with its Belt and Road Initiative strengthening intra-and intercontinental ties,” she told {China Daily}, on the sidelines of the Shanghai Forum at Fudan University. “It’s a grand design. Moving the Belt and Road Initiative forward not only connects Asia internally, but bridges it closer to Europe and Africa.”

She said, “Over the years, China’s shift from quietly forging bilateral relationships, to building multilateral and broad.”-based diplomatic structure has underscored its commitment to deepening its footprint in regional cooperation and integration.

 

Chinese Engagement, Investment and Trade With Africa

China’s New Silk Road–Belt and Road Imitative is providing indispensable investment and construction of infrastructure in Africa. Infrastructure development in energy, railways, roads, airports, and water management are critical for African nations to develop their agricultural and manufacturing sectors. Below are excerpts from the report: “The Belt and Road” in Africa 

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“China’s close engagement with Africa continued through the succeeding decade and accelerated toward the end of the 1990s and into the 2000s. By 2008, China’s Export-Import Bank was funding more than 300 projects in 36 countries across Africa. The value of bilateral trade increased from US$6.5 billion in 1999 to US$73.3 billion in 2007 (Figure 1). According to the China-Africa Research Institute at Johns Hopkins University, by 2008 it exceeded US$100 billion, and it peaked at more than US$200 million in 2014, before slipping back in 2015 and 2016 in response to poorer global economic conditions. In 2009, China overtook the United States as Africa’s major trading partner. The largest African exporter to China from Africa in 2015 was South Africa, followed by Angola and Sudan. In the same year, South Africa was the largest African market for Chinese goods, followed by Nigeria and then Egypt.”

“In 2015, China investments into African infrastructure projects were three times the sum of those of France, Japan, Germany and India combined (Figure 7). The bulk of Chinese funding has been in the form of government-to-government loans, used then by the borrowing African governments either to develop the project itself, or to leverage it with private capital through a public-private partnership (PPP). As of the date of writing (late 2017), at least 76 PPP projects appear to be in the pipeline in African countries associated with BRI. Not all have values ascribed, but the 14 that do imply a cumulative investment of nearly US$6 billion for them alone. Sixty percent of these projects are in the transport sector.”