Reporter: Wang Ke
06:03 June 21, 2019 Source: people.cn - People's Daily
The First China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo will kick off in Changsha, Hunan Province on June 27, when the family of China and Africa will gather in Changsha to open a new chapter of cooperation and development.
Last September, the Beijing Summit of Forum on China-Africa Cooperation depicted a blueprint of the cooperation between Chinese and African peoples. "To build an even closer China-Africa community with a shared future in the new era, China will, on the basis of the ten cooperation plans already adopted, launch eight major initiatives in close collaboration with African countries in the next three years and beyond." President Xi Jinping's encouraging words showed to the world the determination and confidence of China to build a closer China-Africa community with a shared future.
The establishment of China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo in China is the first specific measure under the "eight major initiatives". The first expo will include 14 events, and invite 53 African countries and over ten thousand guests, and it will be dedicated to summoning more resources and mobilizing more forces to inject strong momentum into the China-Africa economic and trade cooperation in the new era.
China-Africa economic and trade cooperation embarks on a new journey from Xiangjiang River.
Win-win cooperation and fruitful economic and trade results between China and Africa
At 0:50 on June 12, the first regular flight from central China to Kenya, also the first direct flight from Hunan to Africa was open: China Southern Airlines' flight CZ6043 took off from Changsha Huanghua International Airport and flew to Nairobi, Kenya's capital which is known as "Junior Paris of Eastern Africa".
There is a data worthy of attention: The maiden flight had a passenger rate of more than 96%. "Africa has become a 'hot destination', not 'a forgotten place' anymore," said Wang Yibin, COO of Hunan Sanhe International Travel Agency, who led a group of more than 60 tourists on this maiden flight. Within two weeks after China Southern Airlines released the news of opening a new route, Sanhe International Travel Agency received the signing-up from more than 150 tourists. "Therefore, the agency quickly adjusted its product structure and normalized the operation of African tourism products."
A lot of passengers are ordering air tickets, and freight orders are also bursting. At present, the Airlines has received freight orders from many domestic enterprises for transporting clothing, wigs, and agricultural machinery parts as well as orders for flowers and coffee from African enterprises. "In the past, all our goods to and from Kenya had to be first distributed in Guangzhou. Now the goods can be directly imported and exported through the Changsha Customs, with logistics efficiency improved and freight cost reduced," Song Jinwei, vice president of an Internet e-commerce platform of Africa, said excitedly.
This busy "air bridge" between China and Africa is a vivid epitome of the all-round, multi-level and wide-ranging development of China-Africa economic and trade cooperation. Since the opening of 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, under the leadership of the CPC Central Committee led by Comrade Xi Jinping, China has adhered to the concept of true sincerity and the correct concept of justice and interests, and focused on the Belt and Road cooperation between China and Africa, fully implementing the ten cooperation plans adopted on the Johannesburg Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, and promptly exercising the eight major initiatives put forward on the Beijing Summit to facilitate the fruitful results of China-Africa economic and trade cooperation.
Trade cooperation shows a stable performance with good momentum for growth. According to data, China has become Africa's largest trading partner for ten consecutive years. In 2018, the trade volume between China and Africa reached USD 204.2 billion, up 20% on a year-on-year basis; the trade structure continued to be optimized, and the exports of China's mechanical and electrical products and high-tech products to Africa accounted for 56% of China's total exports to Africa; China's imports of non-resource products from Africa also increased significantly. In 2018, China's imports from Africa increased by 32% over the previous year, of which agricultural products increased by 22%.
There are many highlights in infrastructure cooperation. The Soubret Hydropower Station, the core project of national energy balance strategy of Cote d'Ivoire contracted by Sinohydro Bureau 5 Co., Ltd., is the largest hydropower station in Cote d'Ivoire. The first generator set of the hydroelectric power station has produced over 2 billion kWh of steady and clean energy since it was put into service in May 2018, which not only greatly increased the proportion of hydropower in Cote d'Ivoire's electricity system, but also enabled the country to export extra electricity.
In recent years, Chinese enterprises have actively participated in infrastructure construction in Africa. With the implementation of a large number of major projects in rail transit, ports, aviation, electricity and other fields, they have made important contributions to boosting connectivity in Africa while bringing China's technology, equipment, standards and services to Africa.
Industrial investment between China and Africa has seen in-depth integration. By the end of 2018, more than 3,700 Chinese enterprises had set up branches in Africa, brining direct investments of more than USD 46 billion to the continent. Overseas cooperation zones have become important platforms for Chinese investment in Africa, promoting the faster growth of China's investment in the integrated industrial chain in Africa and exhibiting the effect of industrial agglomeration. The establishment of industries including equipment manufacturing, light industry and textile and home appliances has helped the local community boost industrialization, build supporting facilities, and improve the capability to increase foreign exchange earnings through export.
China-Africa cooperation is in full swing in multiple new areas. Chinese financial institutions have set up more than 10 branches in Africa. Eight African countries including South Africa have incorporated renminbi into their foreign exchange reserves. China has also launched renminbi clearing services with Zambia and signed local currency swap agreements with four countries including Morocco. In addition, bilateral cooperation in such new forms of business as cross-border e-commerce enjoys rapid development.
Improve the well-being with tangible benefits
Since November last year, groups of Africans are seen in the workshops, conference rooms and canteens of Zoomlion Changsha Lugu Industrial Park in Hunan Province. They are students of the "training class on the application and maintenance technology of construction machinery in developing countries", from Burkina Faso, an African country. They will learn the current situation and prospect of construction machinery industry, and master the application and maintenance technology of common construction machinery in half a year.
"We took them to visit the workshops to show them how to operate equipment and explain all our key techniques to them," said Xiong Chuanyu, one of the trainers of the class and a Zoomlion employee who has worked in Africa for nearly 10 years, "We attach great importance to livelihood projects in Africa, such as the construction of hydropower stations, roads, railways and airports, and we hope them to live the same life as us."
After years of work in Africa, Xiong Chuanyu still remembered that when they built LNG Project in Mombasa Port, a nearby resident excitedly said to him, "we will use natural gas in a few years, just like big cities in China. Thank you so much!"
"With top priority given to the interests of Chinese and African peoples, China advances its cooperation with Africa to improve the well-being of Chinese and African peoples and deliver more benefits to them." China and Africa are making a bigger cake of trade and economy through win-win cooperation, improving the quality and level of cooperation, and steadily moving to a higher stage of cooperation, thus bringing tangible results and benefits to Chinese and African people.
The exchange of goods provides Chinese and African consumers more options.
"Chinese ships bring us high-quality Chinese goods, meeting our daily needs and making our life better and better," said Phili, a wharf worker in Durban, South Africa. In recent years, more and more Chinese enterprises have docked at the Port of Durban. "China has witnessed the continuous upgrading of Africa-China friendship and the common development of Africa-China economy."
At 6:30 on June 17, 2760 fresh cut rose flowers arrived at Changsha Huanghua International Airport by direct flight from Nairobi to Changsha. Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, is known as the "Green City in the Sun". Flowers in Nairobi, especially roses, are popular with consumers all over the world. Through this flight, 11 varieties of fresh flowers in white, yellow, crimson, pink and other colors arrived in Changsha and met with the Hunan people who love flowers within 14 hours.
We will make practical progress in investment and bring new vitality to the further development of Africa.
Madagascar, the island country in East Africa, has the largest planting area and the highest yield of hybrid rice in Africa. The average yield per unit area there is more than twice that of local varieties. The tremendous change owes greatly to the constant efforts of experts at Hunan Academy of Agricultural Sciences and Yuan's Seed Industry, which have popularized hybrid rice in Africa for years. "Thanks to the growing planting area of Chinese hybrid rice in Madagascar, people of Madagascar have basically shaken off hunger", said a Madagascan official, expressing heartfelt praise for Chinese hybrid rice.
We will speed up infrastructure construction to bring a better life to African people.
"Chinese enterprises have made it possible for us to watch TV programs. When we have a window into the world, we have the power to keep working hard for our dreams," said Ntakilutimana, a resident of Kigali, capital of Rwanda. The "10,000 Villages Project" in Africa undertaken by the Chinese enterprise StarTimes aims to enable the residents of over 10,000 villages in 25 African countries to watch satellite TV programs.
Cameroon, which ranks third in Africa in terms of hydropower resources, has a hydropower utilization rate of less than 5% and electricity access rate of less than 30% due to various causes. Having adequate electric energy has always been a dream of the people of Cameroon. PowerChina Zhongnan Engineering Corporation Limited has planned to build four hydropower stations in Cameroon by giving full play to its advantage of "being expert in hydropower power" with a total installed capacity approaching 2,000 MW. After the completion of the project, it will effectively improve the current condition of electricity shortage in Cameroon and upgrade the life of more local people.
"Africa has benefited from China’s development," expressed Miriam Altman, member of the National Planning Commission of South Africa, saying that investment from China has enhanced Africa's profitmaking capacity and helped the continent better integrate itself into the global value chain. In South Africa, Chinese enterprises have aligned themselves with Africa's needs for industrialization and urbanization, providing products and equipment with good quality and appropriate price, which not only effectively boosts local economy, but also brings more investments, management experience and innovation vitality.
Write a new chapter of China-Africa Community with economic and trade industry as the pioneer
As the China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo is around the corner, enterprises are ready to show their skills.
"We hope that through this opportunity, we can directly enter the African market. We also hope to get orders and export goods and services directly to Africa, so as to better understand the needs of African people," said Xu Lingfang, manager of spot sales center of Hualian Porcelain, a Liling ceramic enterprise in Hunan Province. Last year, the company's sales in the African market exceeded RMB 10 million. This year, it launched design and marketing specifically for the African people according to their living habits, cultural characteristics and preferences.
Another Liling ceramic enterprise, Top Collection, is also actively preparing. After more than half a month of repeated discussions, the company has produced 30 stoneware products with red and brown spots, including pots, bottles, cups, plates and bowls, and named them the "unrestrained". These products are designed and positioned completely according to the needs of African families, and are expected to win the favor of African friends at the Expo.
At present, both China and African countries hope to strengthen the alignment of development strategies, tap into cooperation potentials, stimulate development vitality, create new growth points, and better promote their economic and social development with more cooperation achievements. The China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo is a comprehensive new mechanism for China-Africa economic and trade cooperation, a new platform for the implementation of economic and trade initiatives of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, and a new window for local economic and trade cooperation with Africa, which is built in line with the new trend, characteristics and demands of economic and trade development between China and Africa in the new era.
The organizers of this Expo attach great importance to the economy and trade and actual results. They have made pragmatic design and arrangement of activities to bring forth new breakthroughs and tangible results of China-Africa cooperation in trade, agriculture, manufacturing, service, finance, infrastructure, and other industries. During the Expo, there will be 14 activities and exhibitions in five segments, with rich content and diversified forms.
There are also many innovative highlights in the Expo, for example, the "Internet plus", which is aimed to create a never-ending exposition. Through the digital platform of the online Expo, the organizers publicize the information, projects, policies and mechanisms of China-Africa economic and trade cooperation on the online platform. During the inter-sessional period, Chinese and African enterprises and local governments of both sides can cooperate on the digital platform. The organizer has also built an offline exhibition hall for African commodities, where African commodities can be displayed for a long time to help more African commodities enter Hunan and even the whole China.
"China is the largest developing country in the world, and Africa is the Continent with the largest cluster of developing countries. China and Africa have already formed a community with a shared future. We are willing to work together with the African people to build a closer China-Africa community and set a model for building a community with a shared future for mankind." Looking into the future, China-Africa economic and trade cooperation will have broad prospects and great opportunities.
The Hunan-Africa Enterprise Cooperation Center, located at Houhu Lake, Changsha, Hunan Province, has attracted young people from 14 countries (including Benin, Gabon, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Cameroon) since its global investment promotion was launched in February this year. "Mechanical equipment and network communication technology in Hunan are developed, and we hope to introduce them to our country as soon as possible," said Issa from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, who is engaged in the IT industry and was the first young people to start business there. In her hometown, these technologies are immature and expensive. Therefore, she is full of confidence in her business in the future.
Gaoqiao Market Fair in Changsha, Hunan Province has witnessed the great potential in China-Africa trade. The merchants in the market sell Chinese glassware, kitchenware, ceramics, sporting goods, toys, medical devices and other daily necessities to more than 10 African countries, including Nigeria, with an annual trade of RMB 500 million. At the same time, they introduce African products for operation, such as Yirga Cheffe beans in Ethiopia, Coffee Robusta Linden in Uganda, and red wine in South Africa, with annual sales of more than RMB 100 million.
We look forward to making full use of the China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo as a platform, exchanging cooperation information and meeting cooperation needs, setting foot on a path to the fruitful future of China-Africa economic and trade cooperation, and making greater contributions to building a closer China-Africa community with a shared future.
People's Daily (June 21, 2019, Version 07)