Africa-China negotiation workshop series launches in Benin

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The first edition of the Africa-China negotiation workshop series was launched on 16 October in Cotonou, Benin. Initiated and set up by GEG Senior Research Associate and former Oxford-Princeton Global Leader fellow Dr Folashadé Soulé, the general aim of this initiative is the organisation of a series of closed-doors workshops on comparative negotiation practices strategies and strategies by African governments when dealing with China.

Often, African governments deal with the same Chinese policy banks and state-owned enterprises during negotiations. Still, they negotiate differently which often results in different outcomes. The pilot workshop held in Benin brought together 15 negotiators and senior policymakers from Benin, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Guinea and Senegal involved in negotiating infrastructure, mining and oil projects with China, and representatives from the African Union Development Agency and the African Development Bank, to share and learn from each other’s experience and good practices.

The process was largely participative and each participant built on specific case studies of negotiations structured around: 1) pre-negotiations and inter-ministerial coordination (how Africa-China negotiation tables are set up); 2) negotiating local content, labour, construction norms and job creation, imposing independent monitoring and evaluation; and 3) how to address hurdles and the post-negotiation phase. Negotiators also exchanged ideas on how a more coherent national and regional China policy could be adopted by African governments and regional organisations. During the event, the Africa-China Negotiators Network was launched.

The next edition of the workshop series will be held in 2020 in Addis-Ababa.