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World  |  May 11, 2024 10:43:31, updated

Third China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo at the Changsha International Convention and Exhibition Center in Changsha

An exhibitor brews Ethiopian coffee during the third China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo at the Changsha International Convention and Exhibition Center in Changsha, Hunan province, on June 29, 2023. [Photo/Xinhua]

Hunan province in Central China has intensified efforts to advance international economic and trade cooperation, senior officials said at a news conference on Friday.

It is trying to capitalize on its strengths in technology, industry and policies, they said.

"An open Hunan is accelerating its embrace of the outside world. At present, our economic and trade 'friend circle' spans more than 200 countries and regions. Furthermore, 211 projects and enterprises from the Fortune Global 500 list have established their presence in Hunan, with the total import and export value surpassing $110 billion," said Mao Weiming, governor of the province.

Mao said Hunan has global influence thanks to its advanced technologies in fields like agriculture, railways, electric locomotives, mechanical engineering and Beidou satellite navigation.

With regards to trading partners, Hunan has attached higher importance to trade relations with Africa, because of the profound and long-standing friendship between the two, the complementary basis for cooperation and the vast market prospects, said Chen Xianchun, deputy secretary-general of the Hunan provincial government.

"By hosting the China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo, Hunan has emerged as a leading province in China for economic and trade engagements with Africa. For five consecutive years, the province has ranked eighth nationwide and first in the central and western regions in terms of trade volume with Africa," said Chen, adding that the province has experienced an average annual growth rate of 23.1 percent in trade with Africa over the past three years.

The inaugural China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo in 2019 established a permanent base in Hunan. During the 3rd expo last year, exhibitors saw an increase of 70 percent and exhibits saw an increase of 165.9 percent from the previous session in 2021, and they unveiled 34 cooperation achievements, the provincial government said.

The State Council issued a foreign economic and trade cooperation plan on the establishment of the China (Hunan) Pilot Free Trade Zone in 2020 and approved a general plan to build a pilot zone for in-depth China-Africa economic and trade cooperation in January this year.

Currently, the economic and trade cooperation between China and Africa covers a wide range of fields, and trade routes of the two sides are becoming increasingly accessible.

For instance, there are passenger air services linking Changsha, the capital of Hunan, with Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, as well as air freight routes connecting Changsha to Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia.

There are relay air routes linking the significant port city of Yueyang in the northeastern part of Hunan to Africa.

Furthermore, the Hunan-Guangdong-Africa rail-sea intermodal transport service extends to 11 pivotal seaports in Africa and 20 highways and railways leading to inland Africa.

Leveraging its advanced technology and strong manufacturing bases, Hunan has facilitated infrastructure construction in African countries, including the rainwater treatment project in Cotonon, a coastal city in Benin long plagued by waterlogging, and Africa's first wrestling stadium in Dakar, the capital of Senegal.

The province has also facilitated the entry of a batch of high-quality agricultural products from Africa, such as Rwandan hot peppers and Madagascan lamb, into the Chinese market. At the same time, the Hunan-developed hybrid rice is highly favored by farmers across African countries.

Chen said Hunan will continue to help more African agricultural products to enter the Chinese market. The province plans to enhance professional skills training and technological advancements in local areas, and boost support for the growth of novel business formats and models, including cross-border e-commerce, offshore trade and overseas warehouses.

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