Expo to promote African trade

To promote bilateral trade and encourage more African products to enter the Chinese market, the Ministry of Commerce will host the African Commodities Exposition in Xiamen from Sept 8 to 11.

Trade between China and Africa surpassed $10 billion in 2000 and has been increasing by over 30 percent annually for seven consecutive years. In 2007, bilateral trade went up by 32.2 percent from the previous year to $73.3 billion.

During the first half of 2008, bilateral trade amounted to $53.1 billion, up 66 percent year-on-year. China exported $23 billion to Africa, up 40 percent, and bought $30 billion from Africa, up 93 percent.

"Bilateral trade has been developing fast, and is generally balanced, but we have noticed that some African countries still run a deficit in trade with China," said an official with the department of western Asian and African affairs of the Ministry of Commerce.

China traditionally mainly sells textile and light industry products to Africa, and exports in these sectors have been increasing at a stable rate. In recent years, exports of automotives, mechanics and hi-tech products from China have also been increasing quickly. Meanwhile, consumer products from Africa, including diamonds across the continent and coffee from Uganda, are becoming more popular among Chinese consumers as well.

The official said although deficit or surplus is normal in a trade relation, China understands African countries’ concerns and maintains that the two sides need to work together on the current trade imbalance. "China has adopted many measures to increase imports from African countries and the measures have been quite effective," said the official.

Under the framework of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, the Chinese government does not charge tariffs on products from some of the less developed African countries. By the first half of 2008, China imported a total of $620 million worth of products from Africa without charging any tariffs.

Feng Hongzhang, director of the trade development bureau under the Ministry of Commerce, said African governments and related organizations have been active in participating in the exposition.

According to Feng, currently nearly 200 enterprises from 22 African countries have decided to come to the event. It will feature traditional products from Africa including crafts, food and diamonds as well as some advantageous products.

To enhance the mutual understanding among businessmen from China and Africa, and help African enterprises to develop their market in China and expand their exports here, several seminars including introductions on markets in Nigeria and Zambia will also be going on during the exposition.

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