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Africa shines at import expo, eager to test big Chinese market

By Xinhua | Nov 15th 2019 | 3 min read
By Xinhua | November 15th 2019

Business people from different parts of Africa bumped shoulders at crowded showrooms of the second China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai, looking forward to exploring a market with nearly 1.4 billion people.

Fenta Bernabas Berhanu, an Ethiopian coffee trader who has been to the CIIE for the first time, was very excited to meet Chinese counterparts in this trade.

"On my line of work, we usually attend exclusive sectoral exhibitions. Unlike them, the CIIE is rather vast and diverse. I like what the expo has to offer and the future that comes with it," he said. His company was one of the coffee traders invited by the Ethiopian Coffee Exporters Association which opened a booth at the expo to collectively promote the industry.

Rwanda, a country of about 12 million people in central Africa, had seven companies attending the second CIIE and hosted a booth at the country exhibitions.

Many small- and medium-sized coffee farms in Rwanda are trying to enter the Chinese market, said Diane Sayinzoga, an official with Rwanda Development Board, adding that China's leading online shopping platform Tmall has already opened a Rwandan section to expand the market for Rwandan products.

Staff members take selfies at the Rwanda pavilion during the second China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai, east China, Nov. 7, 2019. (Xinhua/Yin Gang)

Mpundu Wild Honey Ltd, a Zambian honey maker, had a sweet taste at the first CIIE last year. This year the company expanded its booth and brought new products, such as honey facemasks and honey soaps, to meet the diverse needs of Chinese consumers.

African countries are not only marketing their goods but also the countries themselves.

This year is the first time the Tunisian National Tourism Office has been to the CIIE to promote the country's tourist destinations.

"Last year, we came to the CIIE to promote our industry and commerce. This year we present the beautiful landscape of the Sahara, the Mediterranean and our handcrafts to show Tunisia's colorful culture and history, with which Chinese can enjoy their stay there," said Anouar Chetoui, chief representative of Tunisian National Tourist Office in China. The North African country also has a booth at the country exhibitions.

Chetoui has promoted tourism in many exhibitions held in Beijing, Shanghai and other Chinese cities but he found it quite unique at the CIIE. "Here I have a stronger feeling that China is a huge market and offers so many opportunities to the other parts of the world," he said.

Also known for its picturesque landscape and wild animals, Tanzania also upgraded its game in promoting tourism in the Chinese market. Not only organizing local enterprises to attend the expo as it did last year, the Tanzanian government also opened a booth at the country exhibitions, impressing visitors with huge pictures of elephants and giraffes wandering on the African savannah against the backdrop of the Kilimanjaro.

China and African countries have notably advanced their cooperation in recent years, with multilateral platforms such as the CIIE and the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation playing a constructive role. The first China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo was held in central Chinese city of Changsha in June.

China has been the largest trading partner of Africa for ten consecutive years. In 2018, trade volume between China and Africa amounted to 204.2 billion U.S. dollars, up 20 percent year on year. 

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