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Tokyo concludes its African summit with a slap to China

UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — Foreign investors in Africa should be careful not to flood their host countries at a summit on Africa, Japan’s prime minister said Friday, a clear reference to China’s huge projects.

“By providing assistance to Africa, we have to take into account the debt burden of the countries that receive it and make sure that it does not become the burden,” Shinzo Abe told a press conference that ended the Tokyo International Conference on African Development, which brought together more than 50 countries from the continent in Yokohama, a suburb of the Japanese capital.”

In the final communique published earlier, participants at the summit, organized in cooperation with the United Nations, the World Bank and the African Union, stressed the importance of “reasonable” and “quality” investments.

China, which followed the example of Japan with its conference on African development, is now surpassing it with $ 60 billion in new funding pledged at last year’s China-Africa summit, twice as much as at the 2016 summit.

– Expert Training –

Launched in 2013 by Beijing to link Asia, Europe and Africa to China, the “New Silk Roads Infrastructure Project” was accused of supporting Chinese enterprises and workers at the expense of local economies, dumping host countries in debt and failing to take human rights and the environment into account.

“If the partner countries are heavily indebted, that will hinder everyone’s efforts to enter the market,” Abe told African leaders on Thursday.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman soon reacted, calling Beijing’s remarks “irrational speculation.”

Abe took the opportunity to promote financing and insurance mechanisms offered by Japanese companies backed by the government, which he said provide “quality” investments.

Over the next three years, Japan also plans to train experts in 30 African countries on financial risk management and public debt, Abe said.

The new figure for Japan’s upcoming investment in Africa was not disclosed on Friday.

– “Great insecurity” –

In the days before the summit, analysts did not expect Japan to be in a race for investment.

Tokyo has chosen to be characterized by its desire to attach its investments to “human resources development,” said a diplomat in charge of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development, and did not hesitate to name China for comparison.

Asked about Japanese investors compared to China, Europe or the United States, Abe said Friday that since the Tokyo International Conference on African Development was established in 1993, Japan “has not stopped supporting people-centered development while respecting the African initiative.” At the heart of development stems from the Japanese experience. ”

The seventh edition of the three-day conference focused on investments in the private sector rather than public investment for development.

On Thursday, a preliminary agreement was signed between the Ivorian government and Toyota’s giant group to open a car assembly plant in Ivory Coast, but no further details were disclosed.

The final communique also welcomed international efforts to reduce the risk of private investment.

At Thursday’s meeting on forest management, an issue that has worried the world since the Amazon fires broke out, a senior official in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) was speaking directly.

“In my country we are facing insecurity and this is the case in many African countries,” said Benjamin Tuarambi, secretary general of the Congolese Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development.

“No investor can bring money in a country today where murders and looting are said to have taken place,” he said. “First of all, thanks to private investors, we can manage the forest resources well.”

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