China and Africa: Aid and Trade

Wen Jiabao, Premier of the People's Republic o...

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Together, China and Africa account for over one-third of the world’s total population. China’s economic engagement with Africa has in recent years become a highly reported issue, not least due to developments in aid relations.

The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) outlines that:

China is the largest developing country in the world, and Africa is home to the largest number of developing countries. Promoting economic development and social progress is the common task China and Africa are facing.

During the 2009 opening ceremony of the FOCAC at the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao pledged $10 billion in concessional loans to African countries. Another marker in on-going relationship that has seen Africa’s exports to China grow by nearly 40% every year between 2001 and 2006 and become South Africa’s largest export market.

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The Future of Aid

As 2010 comes to an end, the effectiveness of the fundamental mechanisms of the current foreign aid system has become a much discussed and ever more pertinent issue. Robert Riddle in his 2007 book Does Aid Really Work? highlights the traditional principle that underpins all foreign aid as:

Those who can should help those who are in extreme need…What could be simpler?

However, as Riddle elaborates, the realities of foreign aid are far from simple. Indeed, the current global financial crises, climate change challenges, natural disasters and political volatility are all contributing factors in an increasingly complex international concern.

These issues have resulted in an extensive diversity in both the attitude and approach to aid.  Some, such as William Easterly and Dambisa Moyo, argue that foreign aid has stunted the growth of countries in Africa and instead created a circle of aid dependency, corruption and further poverty.

Other aid practitioners believe that aid can be successful, but only if delivered correctly.

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GDN 12th Annual Conference Plenary Speaker: Professor Helen Milner

Plenty of leading scholars will address the key issues relating to this year’s conference theme, Financing Development in a Post-Crisis World. Five plenaries top and tail each of the three day’s proceedings, with one of the most exciting taking a particularly topical theme of Development Aid: The Emerging New Landscape.

The international context of foreign aid has changed profoundly in the last few years due to multiple, interrelated global crises and challenges. Food insecurity, volatile energy and commodity prices, climate change, and above all, the global financial crisis, have recently left many fragile countries struggling to cope. This session asks the demanding question of what the next decade might hold for aid effectiveness; explores how ‘aid’ is defined; and promises to look at the macroeconomic impact of aid and the recent emergence of new donors from the South.

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Global Development 12th Annual Conference Trailer 2011

The Global Development Network is very pleased to announce its 12th Annual Global Development Conference which will be held onJanuary 13-15, 2011 in Bogotá, Colombia. The Universidad de los Andes will host the conference and will also be GDN’s local partner.

The central theme of the conference is “Financing Development in a Post-Crisis World: The Need for a Fresh Look.”