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China, Africa stepping up economic, trade cooperation as expo opens

People visit a China-Africa achievement exhibition during the third China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo at the Changsha International Convention and Exhibition Center, central China's Hunan Province, June 29, 2023.

Xinhua

Earlier this week, the first batch of Kenya’s dried anchovies arrived at the Changsha Huanghua International Airport in central China’s Hunan Province, adding to a long list of African products that were granted access to the Chinese market.

Channel 1

The small dried fish has become the latest epitome of prospering China-Africa economic and trade cooperation. And as the third China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo kicked off in Changsha on Thursday, a further boost is widely expected in China-Africa economic and trade cooperation.

COOPERATION BOOMING

At the opening ceremony of the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation held in September 2018, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced the decision to establish the China-Africa economic and trade expo.

Over the years, the biennial expo has become an important platform for China-Africa economic and trade cooperation.

The current edition of the expo has witnessed remarkable growth, with the main exhibition hall occupying a larger area and over 1,500 exhibitors participating, a 70 percent increase compared to the previous event.

Grace Njapau, director of Kakanga Food Suppliers in Zambia, is attending the expo for the second time. This time, she treats Chinese customers to organic honey and moringa seeds.

“Every time we come to China, we discover new business opportunities. The Chinese market is a land of opportunity, and we are also willing to bring higher quality African goods to China,” said Njapau, who has been doing business with her Chinese partners since 2001.

Over the past more than 20 years, Njapau has witnessed and experienced the progress of China-Africa economic cooperation towards prosperity.

In a congratulatory letter to the expo in 2019, Xi said it is hoped that the two sides will actively explore new paths for cooperation, open up new points of growth for collaboration, and promote China-Africa economic and trade cooperation to a new level.

Over the years, the expo has become a booster for China-Africa economic and trade cooperation. The previous two editions have witnessed the signing of 216 cooperative projects or agreements worth a total of 43.02 billion U.S. dollars.

From the trading and processing center for African non-resource products to the China-Africa cross-border RMB center, the expo is expanding the scope of China-Africa economic and trade cooperation.

This photo taken on May 23, 2023 shows containers to be transported near the Nairobi Station of the Mombasa-Nairobi Railway in Nairobi, Kenya. (Xinhua/Wang Guansen)

BROADENING PROSPECT

A day before the expo opened, South African Ambassador to China Siyabonga C. Cwele arrived in Changsha and showcased in a live stream a variety of African specialties to Chinese consumers, including South African white wine, Ethiopian coffee beans, and Guinean drums, which attracted a large audience, hence a flurry of orders.

In recent years, an increasing number of African products have entered the Chinese market and gained popularity among consumers. China now has become the second-largest destination for African agricultural exports.

Such an achievement was made as a visible result of the nine programs in deepening China-Africa cooperation put forward by Xi at the 8th Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in 2021.

As the scale and scope of trade between China and Africa continue to expand, bilateral cooperation is extending into emerging fields such as digital and green industries.

During a meeting with President Felix-Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in May this year, Xi said that China is ready to provide new opportunities for African countries with its new development.

Under the spotlight at the expo are Chinese companies engaged in Africa’s new energy industries, including Hunan Hyliess New Energy Technology Co., Ltd, a company from Changsha, which has already declared cooperative intentions with over 100 African customers.

“The new energy industry in Africa is developing rapidly,” Li Zhenchao, sales manager of the company, told Xinhua. Currently, business from the African region accounts for nearly half of the company’s total, Li added.

Cooperation with China is a win-win process with positive results, Cwele told Xinhua after finishing his live stream. “We see a lot of opportunities from our cooperation.”

An exhibitor introduces products to a visitor during the third China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo at the Changsha International Convention and Exhibition Center in Changsha, central China’s Hunan Province, June 29, 2023.

MOVING FORWARD

China has been Africa’s largest trading partner for 14 consecutive years. In 2022, the total trade volume between China and Africa reached 282 billion dollars, representing an 11.1 percent year-on-year growth.

Specifically, China’s exports to Africa amounted to 164.5 billion dollars, increasing by 11.2 percent, while imports from Africa reached 117.5 billion dollars, growing by 11 percent.

An ever-closer trade and economic relationship is a testament to the success of building a China-Africa community with a shared future.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of Xi’s proposal of the concept of sincerity, real results, affinity and good faith, and the right approach to justice and interests, the guiding principles of China’s Africa policy.

Over the past decade, under those principles, China-Africa relations have been propelled into the fast lane of development.

This photo shows an outdoor exhibition area at the Changsha International Convention and Exhibition Center during the third China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo in Changsha, central China’s Hunan Province, June 29, 2023.

In his message to the 36th African Union Summit in February, Xi said that cooperation between China and Africa is moving steadily forward in an all-round, multi-tiered and high-quality fashion, which takes the lead in international collaboration with Africa.

Xi added that he stands ready to work with leaders of African countries to build a high-level China-Africa community with a shared future.

Echoing Xi’s remarks, Costantinos Berhutesfa, a professor of public policy at Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia, said that it’s the political justice, mutual economic benefit, win-win cooperation, and common development that laid the basis for a shared future of Africa and China.

Africans are already benefiting from such a shared future.

For Kenyan fisherman Abdi Bakari Dura, whose source of livelihood has been anchovy fishing for over a decade, the opening-up of the Chinese market means a steady and sustained income for him.

“Thanks to the vast Chinese market, we no longer have to worry that our fish may go unsold,” said the 30-year-old fisherman.

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