The first-ever African Commodities Exhibition opened in Beijing at the International Convention Center today.
A hundred and seventy businesses from 23 African countries including Angola, Gabon, Liberia, Sudan and Zambia are taking part in the two-day exhibition that will showcase products such as jewelry, textiles, minerals, construction materials, handicrafts and agricultural commodities.
On the heels of the recently concluded Beijing Summit and Third ministerial conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), the exhibition aims to facilitate a deeper understanding of the Chinese market as well as communications and cooperation between Chinese and African companies.
According to Samuel A. Mitchell Jr., president of the Liberian Business Association, the exhibition is a good platform for Liberia to promote its products such as coco, coffee and rubber. He added that several Chinese companies have already expressed interest in importing these goods, and investing in hydroelectricity, timber and manufacturing projects there. He also revealed that Liberia signed contracts with China for the construction of a radio station and a university relocation project during the summit.
As the world's largest integrated sugar company, Sudan's Kenana Sugar Company is looking for Chinese partners for production, engineering, research and development, and technology and expertise exchange, according to Hassan Hshim Erwa, Kenana's marketing research and product development manager. He also attended Saturday's High-level Dialogue and Second Conference of Chinese, African Entrepreneurs, which he praised as "a dialogue between South and South". He added that it provided impetus for further cooperation between China and African countries in economy, culture, and, more important, poverty relief.
"China is a good model of development for my country and other African countries to follow," Hassan emphasized.
"The oil and power cooperation between China and Sudan is booming," said Mohamed Ahmed Abdel Gadir, contracts manager with Higleig Petroleum Services and Investment Company. "For example, one of our partners, CPECC (China Petroleum Engineering and Construction Corp.), a subsidiary of CNPC (China National Petroleum Corporation), successfully completed oilfield production facilities in the Mugled basin. These facilities have an annual output of 10 million tons and set a record in installation speeds!"
"Besides the oilfield, we are in the process of encouraging more Chinese companies to work with us and to invest more in the infrastructure and chemical sectors in Sudan."
Dr. Gertrude M. Mampwe, a specialist in traditional Zambian herbal therapy, hopes that through increased cooperation with Chinese partners, Zambian traditional herbal medicine, which has a thousand-year-old history, will be as popular in China as traditional Chinese medicine is in her country.
"In my clinic, we use a lot of Chinese medicine to treat patients. They are very effective. I also once worked with Chinese doctors and nurses who are very professional and dedicated to their work."
The Beijing Summit, which ended on Sunday, saw the signing of 16 agreements worth US$1.9 billion and covering a range of sectors including infrastructure facilities, communications, technology and equipment, energy and resources development, and finance and insurance.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on Saturday pledged to boost Sino-African trade to US$100 billion by 2010 while promising to open China's markets wider to African exports.
At the end of last year, China's investment in Africa was a whopping US$6.27 billion.
(China.org.cn by staff reporter Li Shen, November 6, 2006)