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 China defends Africa investment as SA deal reported

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PosOnderwerp: China defends Africa investment as SA deal reported   Thu May 13, 2010 8:19 pm

A top Chinese commerce official has defended Beijing's investment policies in Africa, as a giant deal was announced on Thursday for a cement plant in South Africa.

"China's presence in Africa is becoming more and more market-driven, the actors operating there are diverse, there are many models, and the areas they are in are broad," Vice-Commerce Minister Fu Ziying told the Wall Street Journal.

Fu spoke in response to news that South African and Chinese companies had reached a deal to build a R1,65-billion ($217-million) cement plant, one of China's biggest investments in the country.

The deal highlighted China's growing importance as an investor in Africa. Last year, China became South Africa's biggest trade partner.

Women Investment Portfolio Holdings Limited (Wiphold), a black women-owned company, and South African limestone mining company Continental Cement will be the local partners on the cement plant, which will initially produce 2 500 tonnes a day, Wiphold said in a statement.

"This represents a significant foreign direct investment into the South African cement industry, with an inflow of more than R800-million foreign direct investment from China," Wiphold said.

The Chinese partners are Jidong Development Group and the China-Africa Development Fund, which together will hold a 51% stake.

Criticism
China has steadily built up trade and economic ties with Africa, drawing accusations that it has taken a "neo-colonialist" attitude toward the continent.

Beijing has also been criticised for befriending the isolated governments in Sudan and Zimbabwe in a cynical bid to lock up resources needed to fuel expansion of its economy, the world's third largest.



CONTINUES BELOW




The cement-plant deal comes amid a construction boom in South Africa as the country readies for the Soccer World Cup, which kicks off June 11.

The plant will be China's largest investment in Africa in two years, the Financial Times reported.

The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China's $5,5-billion investment in South Africa's Standard Bank, agreed in October 2007, remains the largest Chinese investment in the continent to date, the newspaper said.

That deal accounts for about a quarter of the funds that Beijing has dedicated to Africa, it said.

Fu told the Wall Street Journal that China-Africa trade would exceed $100-billion this year, and the growth in investment is likely to enter its fastest period in the next five years.

Chinese official figures showed trade with Africa was at $91-billionlast year, down 17,6% from a year ago due to the impact of the global financial crisis. -- Sapa-AFP
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