The China Africa Economic and Trade Expo is building Africa’s ability to export to China

Published Aug 25, 2023


Standard Bank exhibited the products of 46 exporting clients from 14 African countries at the third bi-annual China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo (CAETE) in Changsha, China which took place from 29 June to 2 July 2023.

CAETE is a bi-annual event, co-sponsored by the Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China, and the People’s Government of Hunan Province. CAETE was launched in 2019 to deliver on the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation’s (FOCAC) commitment to improve the balance of trade between Africa and China.

CAETE works to increase the import of African goods and services by building new platforms to promote direct business co-operation at sub-national level. The 2019 and 2021 expos resulted in the signing of 216 projects, accounting for over US$43 billion in new trade with Africa to date.

The CAETE supports the trade promotion ambitions of China-Africa Cooperation Vision 2035, announced by China President Xi Jinping in his address to the Eighth Ministerial Conference of FOCAC in Senegal in 2021. Through this vision, China aims to achieve USD 300 billion in total imports from Africa by 2024.

President Xi Jinping explained that this would be achieved by opening ‘green lanes’ for African agricultural exports to enter China. China would also speed up inspection and quarantine procedures while increasing the number of zero-tariff products able to enter China from least developed countries with diplomatic relations with the PRC.

Standard Bank and equity partner the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China’s (ICBC) Africa-China trade and investment ability, “supports FOCAC’s China-Africa Cooperation Vision 2035 by providing the insights, relationships and platforms to practically enable African businesses to trade successfully with China,” said Philip Myburgh, Head of Trade and Africa-China for Business and Commercial Banking at Standard Bank Group.

Standard Bank’s Africa-China trade ability connects African clients to an extensive network of vetted export partners and reputable Chinese importers. This is underpinned by a strong transactional offering and an extensive range of trade and working capital finance solutions “all supported by our English and Mandarin speaking staff in China and Africa,” adds Myburgh. When it comes to sales and marketing on the ground in China, Standard Bank also assists African clients to register their products on its ICBC-linked e-trade platform, which provides access to a vast Chinese customer base.

While broader Most Favoured Nation (MFN) produce protocols and import tariffs are negotiated between governments at the official level, Standard Bank and ICBC play an important role identifying and communicating the commercial rationale of trade opportunities that the responsible government authorities in Africa and China can unlock.

Certainly, Standard Bank’s presence across Africa and ability in China can leverage client insights along with producer association and trade promotion council networks. Myburgh believes that “this insight helps officials on both continents understand how Africa presents a competitive alternative for many of the products that China currently imports from South East Asia, South America or Australia.”

This year’s CAETE was held under the theme Common Development for a Shared Future and took place in the new purpose-built Changsha International Convention and Exhibition Centre. Since 2021, only unaccompanied produce was able to travel to China.

“This is the first time our African clients will experience this impressive trade exhibition space in person as China celebrates its re-opening to the world following Covid-19 pandemic and travel restrictions,” said Myburgh.