What is FOCAC?
FOCAC is a Forum that is held in China or an African country on an alternating basis. It was founded in October 2000 at the first Ministerial Conference in Beijing. FOCAC is part of a growing trend of South-South Cooperation that provides an alternative to traditional development assistance mechanisms. Objective: Strengthen Sino-African economic cooperation and trade relationships to establish a new international order that will better reflect the needs and interests of China and Africa.
The Forum meets every three years and has held meetings in Beijing, China in 2000; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 2003; Beijing, China in 2006; Sharm El-Sheik, Egypt in 2009; Beijing, China in 2012 and Johannesburg, South Africa in 2015. The 7th Ministerial Conference of FOCAC was held in the People’s Republic of China in 2018. Each forum results in a three-year action plan between China and the African countries. The action plans are carried out on a bilateral basis between countries and monitored by a follow-up committee.
FOCAC has 5 guiding values that embody the spirit of South-South cooperation:
1. Equality and mutual benefit; 2. Diversity in form and content; 3. Emphasis on practical results; 4. Pursuit of common progress; and 5. Amicable settlement of differences. Commitments made during the forum are divided into five broad cooperation areas as follows:
Increased trade, foreign investment and official development assistance. Agricultural technology and knowledge sharing with a focus on FAO programs. 3. Military assistance, intelligence exchange, International law research, preventing transnational crime and anti-terrorism. Increased Chinese tourism to Africa, cultural exchange through arts and youth festivals, and women’s cooperation. Medical technology and training; increased scholarships for African students and schools built in Africa; Joint environmental research.
Trade: China has granted tariff exemption treatment to 95% of exports from the least developed countries in Africa. The two sides will scale up trade and try to elevate the China-Africa trade volume to US$400 billion in 2020 from US$220 billion in 2014, ensuring that the rate of growth is maintained in overall trade figures and that balance in trade, the desired outcome, is achieved.
Foreign Direct Investment: Total Chinese Foreign Direct Investment in Africa between 2005 and 2016 was estimated at US$293.36 billion by the Heritage Foundation. The Chinese side will scale up its investments in Africa, and plan to increase China’s stock of direct investment in Africa to US$100 billion in 2020 from US$32.4 billion in 2014. Special loan of US$1 billion for African Small and Medium Enterprises development will be gradually expanded to $6 billion. The Chinese pledged also o set up a China-Africa production capacity cooperation fund, with an initial pledge of US$10 billion, to support China-Africa industry partnering and industrial capacity cooperation.