‘Oriental Paris’ set to be China’s global business centre
SHANGHAI, China’s economic powerhouse, is doing booming trade with African countries and is looking to expand its business.
This week, officials from the Shanghai Municipality met journalists from 27 African countries to elaborate on investments and trade.
The journalists are on a 10-month fellowship, which is ending soon, with the China Africa Press Centre.
They are from Mauritania to Mauritius and South Africa to Sudan and have travelled the length and breath of China taking in many sites, museums, cultural activities, attending press conferences with top companies and covering major events on the country’s political and business calendar.
This includes the Communist Party of China’s recent congress, the Belt and Road Forum and Brics meeting.
The programme, which has been running for four years, aims to promote exchange and co-operation between Chinese and African media. Its goal is to help journalists better understand China by learning first-hand.
Shanghai is the last city the journalists are visiting as a group. Saving the best for last.
China’s biggest city is home to the world’s fastest train, the Fuxing, which travels at 350km per hour but can clock 400km/h. Towering buildings dot its impressive skyline with Shanghai Towers, at 632m, the second highest in the world.
China is Africa’s leading trade partner as it seeks to tap the continent’s vast mineral wealth to meet the resource needs of its growing economy.
Head of development and investment at the Commission of Commerce, Chen Shi, said bilateral trade between China and Africa stood at $149.1 billion last year. Shanghai has claimed its niche, doing robust trade with various countries on the continent which grew by 3.5% in the past 10 months to $46.97bn. Imports grew more rapidly than exports. It imports mainly natural resources such as copper, gold, ore and diamonds and exports textiles, ships, construction equipment and steel.
Chinese companies are ratcheting up investment from natural minerals to consumer goods.
Head of foreign economy at the commission, Fang Meng, said the city has invested $350 million in 79 projects in the 27 countries represented at the press conference. The city had plans for a free trade zone in the port to optimise its business climate.
Shanghai hopes to leverage its strength through China’s much vaunted One Belt and One Road Initiative, a plan to revitalise the old Silk Road.
According to market intelligence report China Trade Research the govern is accelerating the construction the Shanghai Free Trade Port Area and speeding up its reforms in many inter-related areas.
This includes international trade, shipping logistics and financial services, as a means of optimising fut business ventures. It was also constructing an exhibition centre for items imported from countries along the Belt and Road routes,with a focus on certain goods, including wines, cars, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, diamonds and jewellery.
Next month, the city will the
Belt & Road Brand Expo 2017 at Shanghai Exhibition Centre. Nearly 200 companies from 28 countries, including Australia, Cuba, Mauritius, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, and Turkey will display products, technology and culture.
The 12th senior officials meeting of the Forum on China-Africa Co-operation was held in Beijing on Friday. At the opening ceremony the director of African Affairs at China’s foreign ministry Dai Bing said Shanghai would host the first China International Import Expo next November. The event was to further open China’s market to the world, and increase imports. It would be ideal for African countries to take advantage of trade and business opportunities.
The “Oriental Paris”, as Shanghai is often called, is positioned to become the international economic, trade and shipping centre of China in the next three years.
African leaders and businesses are encouraged to take the opportunity to negotiate lucrative deals and reap the benefits of deeper investment and trade.
Peters is live editor for Weekend Argus. She is on a 10-month scholarship with the China Africa Press Centre. This is her last column. Instagram: mels_chinese_takeout.