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Foreign Minister leads delegation to Forum on China Africa Cooperation

BY: Kate Baaba Hudson

The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Ms Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey has arrived in Beijing, China as head of a Ghanaian delegation to attend this year's Forum on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), Conference.

While here, the Minister who was welcomed on arrival by Ghana’s Ambassador to China, Mr Edward Boateng, will attend the heads of delegations meeting with the Vice President of China, Mr Wang Qishan and also participate in a dialogue between executives of Chinese Financial Institutions and Coordinators of FOCAC African members.

Ms Botchwey is expected to attend the official opening of the Coordinators' Meetings and make other presentations and participate in other activities and perform related functions during this Beijing visit.

Diplomatic mechanism

The Minister told journalists that FOCAC had provided a unique diplomatic mechanism to promote dialogue between Africa and China, while at the same time facilitating the development of a common political and economic agenda which advances constructive South-South cooperation for mutual benefit of both sides.

She said the FOCAC deliberations have brought African and Chinese leaders closer together and crafted a shared vision for policy coordination, expanded commercial interaction and common prosperity.

The Minister explained the various meetings held under FOCAC and said the meetings of FOCAC were held at various levels, from the level of Heads of State – FOCAC Summit.

There was also the level of Ministers responsible for Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation – FOCAC Ministerial Conference which was held once in three years, as well as the level of Directors or Chief Directors – Senior Officials Meeting (SOM), which was held twice in a year and the Coordinators’ meetings – held once every two years.

Another meeting was that of the level of the Group of African Ambassadors in Beijing which was mandated to hold regular consultations with the Secretariat of the Chinese Follow-up Committee on the FOCAC.

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The Minister noted that the Coordinators’ Meetings were very important as they provided a unique platform to both the African and Chinese sides to discuss and take stock of the status of implementation of the outcomes of the FOCAC.

It also provided an opportunity to directly engage the relevant Chinese authorities regarding the modalities for the disbursement of the FOCAC Funds.

"This meeting became part of the FOCAC meetings after the Johannesburg Summit of FOCAC in 2015. The first coordinators meeting was held in Beijing, China in July, 2016. Ghana’s delegation to that meeting was led by the former Minister of Finance Mr Seth Terkper."

China- Africa relations

China - Africa relations have assumed growing economic and strategic importance in recent times and in order to nurture, consolidate and broaden relations between the two continents, FOCAC) was established in 2000.

The trade volume between Africa and China had soared and Chinese government firms have invested billions of dollars in foreign exchange and have used Chinese engineering and construction resources on infrastructure for developing oil, gas, mineral, and other natural resources in many African countries.