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US' Tillerson says African countries should weigh Chinese loans carefully
09 March 2018, 03:40 | Floyd Cook
Turn the page US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at a press conference with the African Union's Moussa FakiMore
Tillerson took that line saying that Chinese investments "do not bring significant job creation locally" and criticised how Beijing structures loans to African government.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (L), speaking a during a joint press conference, with Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat on March 8, 2018 at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa.
Beijing has pumped billions into infrastructure projects, though critics say there is often little upside for local economies because Chinese firms and labour build the roads and rails.
At a press conference with African Union Commission Chairman Moussa Faki in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, a journalist asked Faki and Tillerson whether the USA should apologize for the remark.
The US would do more to reduce trade and investment barriers for African partners, he said.
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During a joint press conference with the African Union Commission chairman Thursday, Tillerson expressed USA interest in strengthening ties and continuing trade with the continent.
The two officials analyzed how to increase US support for African antiterrorist troops in Somalia and Sahel, although no concrete commitments were made, according to an official press release.
Tillerson had earlier on acknowledged the potential Chinese investments in Africa had in filling up its infrastructure gap but warned that dependency on China would lead to mounting debt, undermining Africa's sovereignty and thus potentially endangering future independence and sustainable growth through vague contracts, predatory loans and corrupt trade.
Tillerson was due to meet with Ethiopian officials on Thursday afternoon before flying to tiny Djibouti, host to sprawling military bases owned by the U.S., China, Japan, France, and Italy.
Geng Shuang was responding to USA accusation that low interest loans from China and other countries have driven some sub-Saharan African countries deeper into debt.
"Africans are mature enough to engage in partnerships of their own volition", he said.
He made no mention of the political situation in Ethiopia.
"I emphasize that the Chinese side attaches great importance to the sustainability of Africa's debt", Geng said.
This trip marks Tillerson's first official visit to Africa as Secretary of State since taking office 14 months ago and will begin in Ethiopia before moving to Djibouti and onto to Kenya, Chad and finally Nigeria.
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