Can China integrate Africa’s new free trade area with the Belt and Road?

Foreign Affairs

Comments from a high-ranking official at China's National Development and Reform Commission are the clearest signal so far that Beijing is serious about linking its own multinational trading regime with Africa's.

The idea of linking China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) with the new African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCTA) appears to be gaining momentum among senior Chinese policymakers. Cháng Hào 常皓, a high-ranking official with the influential National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) — a powerful body that effectively sets macroeconomic policy in China — spoke at a China-Africa think tank forum on Sunday about integrating the two multinational trade regimes.

Linking the BRI with the AfCTA is an idea that’s been bouncing around Chinese think tanks and state media for the past several months. However, Chang’s comments are among the first from a senior-level official who seemingly endorsed the concept.

Chang also said that China is prepared to do more to work with manufacturers to support “Africa’s industrial capacity to develop its value chain.”

A version of this post originally appeared on the China Africa Project, and it is republished here with permission.