Although the next China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo is still six months away, an economic and trade delegation from central China's Hunan Province has finished its trips promoting the expo to several African countries in mid-December.
According to local authorities, the Third China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo will take place next June in Changsha, capital of Hunan Province. To deepen economic and trade cooperation with Africa, the delegation, organized by the provincial government's commerce department, visited Mozambique, Tanzania and Madagascar from Dec. 10 to 21.
"In just a few years, Hunan has become one of the most active provinces in economic and trade cooperation with Africa," said Zhu Guangyao, head of Changsha Customs.
Data from the customs shows Hunan's trade volume with Africa increased from 15.08 billion yuan (about 2.16 billion U.S. dollars) in 2012 to 40.39 billion yuan in 2021, ranking first in the country's central region and the eighth nationwide.
From January to November this year, the number rose 45.5 percent year on year to 50.94 billion yuan. And the province has boasted 2,498 foreign-trade enterprises with trade ties with African countries.
Thanks to the country's higher-standard opening up, many Chinese provinces, including Hunan, have seized the opportunities to give full play to their advantages and characteristics, and actively acted as pioneers in trade with Africa.
For instance, Zhejiang Province, a foreign trade powerhouse in China, saw its trade with Africa reach 235.7 billion yuan in 2020, accounting for 18.2 percent of the country's total, according to statistics from the Department of Commerce of Zhejiang Province.
In the 2022 China (Zhejiang) Forum on China-Africa Economic and Trade Relations, which kicked off on Nov. 21, Zhejiang signed 26 economic and trade cooperation projects with Africa, with a total amount of 57.98 billion yuan.
Live-streaming e-commerce, a dominant industry in Zhejiang, has become a bridge for China-Africa trade exchanges.
As one of the attempts, the province held an online shopping event promoting African products from April 28 to May 12 this year. Over 50 special commodities categories from more than 10 African countries were promoted through live-streaming platforms such as Taobao and Douyin.
"We even set up five live-broadcasting rooms in African countries such as South Africa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Tanzania," said Zhao Haoxing, founder of China-Africa Bridge, a cross-border trade service platform in Hangzhou.
According to Zhang Qianjiang, deputy director of the Department of Commerce of Zhejiang Province, during the e-commerce event promoting African products, which lasted three months last year, Zhejiang saw 106 live-streaming shows, with a turnover of more than 50 million yuan.
With the booming trade between China and Africa, more Chinese entrepreneurs are optimistic about the African market.
The target market of Changsha Baohui Import and Export Co., Ltd., a company exporting products including suitcases, shoes, wigs and ceramics, was mainly Southeast Asia, Europe and America at the beginning.
In 2020, after the Hunan Gaoqiao Grand Market, located in Changsha, was designated as China-Africa Economic and Trade Cooperation Promotion Innovation Demonstration Park, the company saw the prospect of trade between China and Africa and decided to expand its presence in the African market.
"We can easily assemble goods in the park to meet the diverse needs of African customers," said Xie Shengxiang, general manager of the company.
Over the past decade, bilateral trade between Guangdong Province and Africa has grown at an average annual rate of nearly 30 percent. Many outstanding enterprises from Guangdong have successfully entered the African market, and engaged in trade, agriculture and electricity, playing a significant role in promoting local economic development.
"The Chinese provinces' exploration of economic and trade cooperation with Africa will help broaden and optimize the China-Africa trade cooperation mechanism. It will finally achieve mutual benefits and win-win results," said Zhang Xiaohu, deputy director of the institute of China-Africa economic and trade law at Xiangtan University.