China Daily (Hong Kong)
Expo to advance China-Africa ties
Hunan strives to build a highland for economic and trade cooperation
The second China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo kicked off on Sunday in Changsha, capital of Hunan province. Chinese and African political leaders, heads of international organizations and entrepreneurs attended the opening ceremony both online and offline.
The opening ceremony of the expo, also known as the Forum on ChinaAfrica Economic and Trade Cooperation, was held in the Changsha International Conference Center and included the launch of China’s Corporate Social Responsibility in Africa.
In addition to the forum, the expo will hold conferences and exhibitions to showcase the achievements and highlight the potential of China-Africa economic and trade cooperation.
There will be 20 conferences and seminars on the expo’s schedule, focusing on key areas of cooperation and burgeoning fields, such as food and agricultural products, medicine and health, infrastructure and finance.
In terms of exhibition, the offline activities of the second expo will run from Sept 26 to 29 in two venues.
The main venue, Changsha International Conference Center, will host exhibitions on China-Africa economic and trade cooperation, the image of African countries and commodities.
The second venue, Changsha’s Gaoqiao Grand Market, boasts a permanent pavilion for exhibitions and five specific areas for coffee, nuts, cocoa, agricultural products from Africa and products exported to Africa.
With the theme of “New Start, New Opportunities, New Accomplishments”, the expo has gathered multiple countries, including Algeria, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa
and Senegal, to join hands with provinces like Zhejiang and Jiangxi.
‘On the cloud’
The expo features its presence “on the cloud”, due to the impact of the lingering COVID-19 pandemic.
With “cloud conferences, cloud exhibitions and cloud trading”, the second expo is staged via various online and digital platforms.
Its opening ceremony was livestreamed in Africa for the first time.
Commodities will be displayed online, meaning exhibitors at home and abroad can make appointments and negotiate online. Services regarding
displaying, matching and negotiating will be provided free of charge for exhibitors and purchasers.
The expo will hold an online shopping festival with well-known African e-commerce platforms. Commodities worth over 60 million yuan ($9.28 million) will be for sale, and about 100 African specialties have been put online.
Over 550 cooperative projects have been submitted to the expo’s organizer from provincial and municipal administrations, central State-owned enterprises and African embassies in China.
Among them, 115 projects have been approved for preliminary examination,
with a total value of $15.93 billion, covering trade, investment, project contract, strategic cooperation and other fields.
Meanwhile, nearly 500 Chinese and African enterprises have been organized for consultations in advance, with the value of intended deals topping $200 million. They are expected to sign contracts during the expo.
In recent years, China-Africa economic and trade cooperation has developed by leaps and bounds. Since 2000, China-Africa trade has witnessed a 20-fold increase.
China has been Africa’s largest trading partner for 12 consecutive years.
The share of China-Africa trade in Africa’s total foreign trade has been rising year after year and it exceeded 21 percent in 2020, totaling $180 billion.
In 2019, the first China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo was held in Changsha.
It was an important part of the eight major initiatives for China-Africa cooperation announced at the 2018 Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation.
Over the past two years, the expo has achieved remarkable results in promoting China-Africa economic and trade cooperation.
In 2020, Hunan’s trade volume with Africa reached 28.84 billion yuan, with the highest growth rate compared with other provinces in China.
In the first half of this year, trade between Hunan and Africa amounted to 17.21 billion yuan, up 36 percent year-on-year.
As the backbone of Hunan’s trade with Africa, Changsha registered a total trade value of 7.39 billion yuan with Africa from January to July, up 73.7 percent year-on-year.
To facilitate trade with African countries, various platforms for cooperation have been launched.
The first phase of China-Africa Economic and Trade Cooperation Promotion Innovation Demonstration Park has been completed in the Gaoqiao Grand Market and put in use, with 98 leading enterprises and business associations participating.
A trade center was also established in the Gaoqiao market to facilitate the distributing, processing and trading of nonresource African products.
Since its launch last year, the center has generated a total trade volume of $272 million.
Rwanda’s dried chili peppers received approval to access the Chinese market, pushing forward the signing of China’s first AEO mutual recognition arrangement with Uganda’s customs.
Hunan has also been accelerating the building of a logistics network of combined “land, sea and air” transport. International passageways between China and Africa have been expanding to make the flow of goods more smooth.
Meanwhile, two passenger routes starting from Changsha, one to Nairobi, Kenya and the other to Luanda, Angola, have also opened up.