Johannesburg - Africa’s trading relations have undergone a shift since China began targeting the continent as a source of oil and minerals, and a market for its manufactured goods.

The two-way trade between China and the 49 sub-Saharan African nations is 2.7 times that of the US, which was the region’s largest trading partner until 2009.

“The obvious reason is that Chinese demand for resources has grown rapidly, and Africa is providing a large proportion of those resources,” Elna Moolman, an economist at Macquarie, said by phone from Johannesburg on July 30.

“China’s economy is also growing a lot faster than the US, which also partly explains its rising share of trade.”

While China runs a trade deficit with Africa, the US this year has a surplus that’s widening as increased shale gas production curbs its crude oil purchases from countries such as Nigeria and Angola.

US President Barack Obama will host more than 40 African leaders at a three-day summit in Washington next week, with a view to boosting trade with the continent.

Key to achieving that goal will be securing Congressional approval for the extension of the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which gives African nations duty-free access to US markets if they are judged to display good governance.

The act, which was adopted in 2000 and extended in 2004, is due to expire next year. - Bloomberg News