May 9 - Worried about the flood of cheap Chinese imports policy makers and executives in Africa are calling on governments to drive harder bargains with China. Their warning comes as African leaders gather for the World Economic Forum on Africa. Melanie Ralph reports
Over the past decade Africa's economy has become a force to contend with. Rich with natural resources it's fast becoming an attractive investment opportunity as DEVELOPED countries continue to battle economic headwinds. China recognised its potential long before many others. But now Africa is scrutinizing their trading partnership. Many business leaders are no longer prepared to swap African oil, coal and iron ore for chinese manufactured imports. They say China's sapping their own manufacturing sector, and would like to see shared skills and technology as well. Tendai Biti is Zimbabwe's Finance Minister (SOUNDBITE) (English): ZIMBABWE FINANCE MINSTER, TENDAI BITI, SAYING: "The reality as well is that they are not comrades, their companies are there to make profits like everyone else, and therefore it's important for everyone to have your best lawyers, your best accountants, best advisors, when you are negotiating with them." Africa's textiles business in particular is under huge stress. Diana Layfield, Chief Executive of Standard Chartered Bank Africa says Africa needs to make its natural resources go further (SOUNBITE) (English): STANDARD CHARTERED BANK CHIEF EXEC AFRICA, DIANA LAYFIELD, SAYING: "Many African's need to think more about the value added activities within their own countries, in nigeria there is a fantastic example, the Nigerians are one of the largest importers of tomatoes in the world, they export the tomatoes to Italy and they are one of the largest importers of tomato paste from Italy. There is no conceivable reason why Nigeria can not do all that value added activity in Nigeria". A recent visit by China's president to meet his South African counterpart shows relations are strong, and some analysts say that China has a MORAL duty to help Africa. The question now is whether China feels secure enough to share it's expertise with what could become its future competitors.