Country's central provinces bolster trade ties with Africa

Updated: Jul 8, 2024 China Daily Print
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Visitors check out the third China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo in Changsha, Hunan province, in July 2023. CHEN ZHENHAI/XINHUA

CHANGSHA, Hunan — In the predawn mist off Kenya's coast, fishermen cast their nets into the sea, chasing wild anchovies. Little do they know, this catch would soon embark on a journey to China and elsewhere, where it would be made into tasty snacks destined for supermarkets across over 30 countries.

Jinzai Food Group Co Ltd in Central China's Hunan province drives this international operation. Since 2022, after Kenya's aquatic products gained access to the Chinese market, the company has emerged as one of the largest importers of these products.

"The company's sales of dried small deep-sea fish have surpassed 1 billion yuan ($137.5 million) and tens of thousands of tons of fish are imported each year," said Zhou Jinsong, the company's chairman.

Zhou added that the company has set up a fish-processing factory in Kenya, supports the local government in conducting fishing surveys, and helps train fishermen into skilled industrial workers.

Jinzai exemplifies the thriving economic and trade exchanges between Hunan and Africa. The province has stayed at the forefront of China-Africa economic and trade relations. Featuring advanced agricultural technology, equipment manufacturing and infrastructure construction, Hunan has sustained an annual growth rate of 23.1 percent in economic and trade cooperation with Africa over the past three years, according to official data.

In addition to Hunan, the five other central provinces of China have been encouraged to establish inland reform and opening-up centers. The region will accelerate the development of platforms such as the pilot zone for deepening economic and trade cooperation between China and Africa, as highlighted in a news briefing by the Ministry of Commerce in May.

Guided by the national strategy, the provinces, located far away from borders and coastlines, are actively driving institutional and practical innovations in economic and trade cooperation with Africa.

The China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo, regularly held in Changsha, Hunan's capital city, has become a crucial showcase for African agricultural products, enhancing their international visibility.

In the city's China-Africa Economic and Trade Headquarters Building, hosts from both sides sell African products via livestreaming to help them gain a foothold in Chinese and global markets. Spanning over 100,000 square meters, the building commenced operations in mid-June and is expected to achieve a trade volume with Africa totaling 30 billion yuan over the next three years.

Numerous construction companies from neighboring Hubei province have ventured into Africa, undertaking diverse engineering projects in sectors such as energy, transportation, municipal construction, housing, telecommunications and metallurgy.

North of Zambia's capital Lusaka, about 88 kilometers along a major highway, lie rows of modern standard factories and a grid of straight roads. This area is Jiangxi province's first overseas economic and trade zone, the Zambia-Jiangxi Economic Cooperation Zone, which was completed after five years of construction.

The area will be developed into a new eco-friendly urban area that combines industry, trade, logistics, comprehensive services, leisure, healthcare, education, and essential living facilities, said Xu Jianfeng, the zone's general manager.

"We see the booming trade as a win-win situation which keeps growing," said South African Ambassador to China Siyabonga Cyprian Cwele. "And the massive growth in bilateral trade has been translated into direct benefits to our people."


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