Mozambique gets closer to China with nomination of new Foreign Minister and ambassador

22 January 2018

The President of the Republic of Mozambique, Filipe Nyusi, has appointed a new foreign minister with links to China as well as a new ambassador for China, at a time when bilateral economic and trade relations are growing, according to the Africa Monitor Intelligence newsletter.

The appointment of the new foreign minister, José Pacheco, in December, comes at a time when many Western donors are moving away from the country and suspended support for Mozambique in 2016 after the disclosure of hidden debts, forcing the country to make up an unexpected deficit in funding.

The newsletter includes an article stating that the nomination of the new foreign minister was seen by most western countries as an approach to China, considering the political and business connections that Pacheco made in the Asian country as a minister Agriculture and governor of the province of Cabo Delgado.

“The appointment of JP is understood within Frelimo (the party in power in Mozambique since the country’s independence in 1975) as a national statement to the donors, highlighting the message that the government is sovereign in its decisions,” said AM Intelligence.

“It also highlights a strategic realignment, given the incompatibility of donor demands with the political realities of Frelimo. China has become one of the main Mozambican partners, especially as an agent of State funding and specific projects, a context in which the privileged links of the new Foreign Minister can prove to be providential,” it said.

Back in January, Nyusi named one of the most experienced Mozambican diplomats on the Asian continent, Maria Gustava, who has worked in Indonesia, Timor-Leste, Thailand, Singapore, and Malaysia, as the new ambassador to Beijing.

Gustava’s predecessor, former Prime Minister Aires Ali, returned to Maputo to join the most important decision-making body of Frelimo, the Political Commission.

AM Intelligence also said that the changes were in line with ongoing negotiations with Chinese operators and traders, including state oil companies, for contracts for the sale of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) from US group Anadarko Petroleum’s Rovuma project.

The increase in LNG consumption has made China the world’s third largest importer of gas, following Japan and South Korea.

The Economist Intelligence Unit recently reported that the strategy of the Mozambican authorities in the medium term is to “speed up efforts to strengthen ties with Asian countries – particularly China (a large creditor in Mozambique) and coal and gas-importing countries including India, Japan, and Thailand, which own companies that are major investors in Mozambique.”(macauhub)