China’s customs agency reported that trade with Africa reached record highs in 2021. As our chart shows, while trade between the two markets has been steadily increasing for years, it saw a jump in 2021 with combined imports and exports hitting $254 billion, up 35 percent from the year before. According to Quartz, most of this growth is due to the rise of China’s exports to the continent throughout the pandemic, including PPE, masks, hazmat suits and pharmaceuticals.
Africa too has upped its game in terms of trade, with exports from Libya and Benin rising four fold. Exports - mainly natural resources and agricultural products - from Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso, Togo, São Tomé, Príncipe, Madagascar, and Eswatini also increased. According to Global Compliance News, the general trend has continued into Q2 of this year, with bilateral trade having risen a further 23 percent.
In addition to being Africa’s largest trading partner, China has also been a leading foreign investor in recent years. As Martin Armstrong of Statista writes: “[China] was the source of 25 percent of infrastructure funding in the continent in 2018 - the second highest share that year and only second to the financial commitments from national African governments.” This backing shows how resilient the cooperation between the two markets has become and is a sure sign that China will be a key partner in Africa’s economic growth in the coming years.