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France offers Africa new aid, trade ties

05 December 2013, 07:54

Paris - President Francois Hollande told African leaders on Wednesday France was ready to double its aid and trade to the continent over the next five years.

The target, announced at a conference in Paris ahead of the formal opening on Friday of the annual Africa-France summit, is part of an effort by France to win back African business in the face of growing rivalry from China and others.

"Africa's time has come - and France should see that as an opportunity," Hollande told the conference. "The road between France and Africa is not a one-way street," he told assembled leaders such as Ivory Coast's Alassane Ouattara.

Hollande said France would look to double its global aid to the continent from the €10bn ($13.6bn)injected from 2008-2013 to 20 billion euros over the next five years.

Paris wants over the same period to double trade with Africa from a current total of €30bn - roughly 15 billion each of imports and exports.

The government estimates France's economic growth will be barely 0.1% this year, compared to the 5% average growth rate being experienced across Africa. Doubling France's exports to Africa in the next five years could create 200 000 extra French jobs, French finance ministry officials estimate.

Such a feat would in fact only be the equivalent of recovering lost ground. Between 2000 and 2011, France's share of sub-Saharan imports has fallen from 10.1% to 4.7% - while China's has risen from 2% in 1990 to over 16% by 2011.

- Reuters


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