Archive for ‘Economics’

08/07/2019

Seven Silk Road destinations, from China to Italy: towns that grew rich on trade

  • Settlements along the route linking Europe and Asia thrived by providing accommodation and services for countless traders
  • Formally established during the Han dynasty, it was a 19th-century German geographer who coined the term Silk Road
The ruins of a fortified gatehouse and cus­toms post at Yunmenguan Pass, in China’s Gansu province. Photo: Alamy
The ruins of a fortified gatehouse and cus­toms post at Yunmenguan Pass, in China’s Gansu province. Photo: Alamy
We have a German geographer, cartographer and explorer to thank for the name of the world’s most famous network of transconti­nental trade routes.
Formally established during the Han dynasty, in the first and second centuries BC, it wasn’t until 1877 that Ferdinand von Richthofen coined the term Silk Road (historians increasingly favour the collective term Silk Routes).
The movement of merchandise between China and Europe had been taking place long before the Han arrived on the scene but it was they who employed troops to keep the roads safe from marauding nomads.
Commerce flourished and goods as varied as carpets and camels, glassware and gold, spices and slaves were traded; as were horses, weapons and armour.
Merchants also moved medicines but they were no match for the bubonic plague, which worked its way west along the Silk Road before devastating huge swathes of 14th century Europe.
What follows are some of the countless kingdoms, territories, (modern-day) nations and cities that grew rich on the proceeds of trade, taxes and tolls.

China

A watchtower made of rammed earth at Dunhuang, a desert outpost at the crossroads of two major Silk Road routes in China’s northwestern Gansu province. Photo: Alamy
A watchtower made of rammed earth at Dunhuang, a desert outpost at the crossroads of two major Silk Road routes in China’s northwestern Gansu province. Photo: Alamy

Marco Polo worked in the Mongol capital, Khanbaliq (today’s Beijing), and was struck by the level of mercantile activity.

The Venetian gap-year pioneer wrote, “Every day more than a thousand carts loaded with silk enter the city, for a great deal of cloth of gold and silk is woven here.”

Light, easy to transport items such as paper and tea provided Silk Road traders with rich pickings, but it was China’s monopoly on the luxurious shimmering fabric that guaranteed huge profits.

So much so that sneaking silk worms out of the empire was punishable by death.

The desert outpost of Dunhuang found itself at the crossroads of two major Silk Road trade arteries, one leading west through the Pamir Mountains to Central Asia and another south to India.

Built into the Great Wall at nearby Yunmenguan are the ruins of a fortified gatehouse and cus­toms post, which controlled the movement of Silk Road caravans.

Also near Dunhuang, the Mogao Caves contain one of the richest collections of Buddhist art treasures any­where in the world, a legacy of the route to and from the subcontinent.

Afghanistan

Afghanistan's mountainous terrain was an inescapable part of the Silk Road, until maritime technologies would become the area's undoing. Photo: Shutterstock
Afghanistan’s mountainous terrain was an inescapable part of the Silk Road, until maritime technologies would become the area’s undoing. Photo: Shutterstock

For merchants and middlemen hauling goods through Central Asia, there was no way of bypassing the mountainous lands we know today as Afghanistan.

Evidence of trade can be traced back to long before the Silk Road – locally mined lapis lazuli stones somehow found their way to ancient Egypt, and into Tutankhamun’s funeral mask, created in 1323BC.

Jagged peaks, rough roads in Tajikistan, roof of the world

Besides mercan­tile exchange, the caravan routes were responsible for the sharing of ideas and Afghanistan was a major beneficiary. Art, philosophy, language, science, food, architecture and technology were all exchanged, along with commercial goods.

In fact, maritime technology would eventually be the area’s undoing. By the 15th century, it had become cheaper and more convenient to transport cargo by sea – a far from ideal development for a landlocked region.

Iran

The Ganjali Khan Complex, in Iran. Photo: Shutterstock
The Ganjali Khan Complex, in Iran. Photo: Shutterstock

Thanks to the Silk Road and the routes that preceded it, the northern Mesopotamian region (present-day Iran) became China’s closest trading partner. Traders rarely journeyed the entire length of the trail, however.

Merchandise was passed along by middlemen who each travelled part of the way and overnighted in caravan­serai, forti­fied inns that provided accom­mo­dation, storerooms for goods and space for pack animals.

The good, bad and ugly sides to visiting Chernobyl and Kiev

With so many wheeler-dealers gathering in one place, the hostelries developed into ad hoc marketplaces.

Marco Polo writes of the Persian kingdom of Kerman, where craftsmen made saddles, bridles, spurs and “arms of every kind”.

Today, in the centre of Kerman, the former caravanserai building forms part of the Ganjali Khan Complex, which incorporates a bazaar, bathhouse and mosque.

Uzbekistan

A fort in Khiva, Uzbekistan. Photo: Alamy
A fort in Khiva, Uzbekistan. Photo: Alamy

The double-landlocked country boasts some of the Silk Road’s most fabled destinations. Forts, such as the one still standing at Khiva, were built to protect traders from bandits; in fact, the city is so well-preserved, it is known as the Museum under the Sky.

The name Samarkand is also deeply entangled with the history of the Silk Road.

The earliest evidence of silk being used outside China can be traced to Bactria, now part of modern Uzbekistan, where four graves from around 1500BC-1200BC contained skeletons wrapped in garments made from the fabric.

Three thousand years later, silk weaving and the production and trade of textiles remain one of Samarkand’s major industries.

Georgia

A street in old town of Tbilisi, Georgia. Photo: Alamy
A street in old town of Tbilisi, Georgia. Photo: Alamy

Security issues in Persia led to the opening up of another branch of the legendary trade route and the first caravan loaded with silk made its way across Georgia in AD568.

Marco Polo referred to the weaving of raw silk in “a very large and fine city called Tbilisi”.

Today, the capital has shaken off the Soviet shackles and is on the cusp of going viral.

Travellers lap up the city’s monaster­ies, walled fortresses and 1,000-year-old churches before heading up the Georgian Military Highway to stay in villages nestling in the soaring Caucasus Mountains.

Public minibuses known as marshrutka labour into the foothills and although the vehicles can get cramped and uncomfortable, they beat travelling by camel.

Jordan

Petra, in Jordan. Photo: Alamy
Petra, in Jordan. Photo: Alamy

The location of the Nabataean capital, Petra, wasn’t chosen by chance.

Savvy nomadic herders realised the site would make the perfect pit-stop at the confluence of several caravan trails, including a route to the north through Palmyra (in modern-day Syria), the Arabian peninsula to the south and Mediterranean ports to the west.

Huge payments in the form of taxes and protection money were collected – no wonder the most magnificent of the sand­stone city’s hand-carved buildings is called the Treasury.

The Red Rose City is still a gold mine – today’s tourists pay a hefty

US$70 fee to enter Petra

. The Nabataeans would no doubt approve.

Venice

Tourists crowd onto Venice’s Rialto Bridge. Photo: Alamy
Tourists crowd onto Venice’s Rialto Bridge. Photo: Alamy

Trade enriched Venice beyond measure, helping shape the Adriatic entrepot into the floating marvel we see today.

Besides the well-documented flow of goods heading west, consignments of cotton, ivory, animal furs, grapevines and other goods passed through the strategically sited port on their way east.

Ironically, for a city built on trade and taxes, the biggest problem Venice faces today is visitors who don’t contribute enough to the local economy.

A lack of spending by millions of day-tripping tourists and cruise passengers who aren’t liable for nightly hotel taxes has prompted authorities to introduce a citywide access fee from January 2020.

Two thousand years ago, tariffs and tolls helped Venice develop and prosper. Now they’re needed to prevent its demise.

Source: SCMP

Advertisements
08/07/2019

China to fire up small test nuclear reactor to heat smog-prone north

  • Compact plants proposed to ease pollution but backers must win over wary public
China is exploring the idea of using small nuclear power plants to phase out coal- and gas-fired heating generators in smog-afflicted northern China. Photo: Reuters
China is exploring the idea of using small nuclear power plants to phase out coal- and gas-fired heating generators in smog-afflicted northern China. Photo: Reuters
China plans to build a pilot small-scale nuclear reactor that could replace coal or gas to heat towns and cities in its colder northern regions, an official with the state-owned developer in charge of the project said on Monday.
The small heating reactor was planned for the city of Jiamusi in northeastern Heilongjiang province, one of two proposed units with a combined capacity of 400 megawatts, Wang Xujia, a senior engineer with the State Power Investment Corp, said on the sidelines of an industry conference.
“The project is still under central government review for approval,” Wang said, adding that the developer aimed to put the project into operation by 2024.
China has been exploring the use of small nuclear reactors – less than a fifth of the size of a standard reactor – as alternative heating systems in smog-prone northern regions.
The state provides heating throughout northern China from November to March, using predominantly coal- or gas-fired boilers.
State-owned China National Nuclear Corp (CNNC) has already conducted trial runs for a “district heating reactor” (DHR) design, which it says can supply heat to 200,000 urban households.
China-built nuclear reactors may enjoy home advantage as delays and costs stymie foreign competitors
The DHR model consists of a reactor core immersed in a water-filled tank. It is estimated to require investment of 1.5 billion yuan (US$217 million) and take three years to build, making it cheaper and quicker to construct than conventional reactors.

However, while the various designs will use only a fraction of the radioactive material of a conventional nuclear plant, officials acknowledge the biggest challenge is convincing the public the reactors are safe and reliable.

“The planned project in Jiamusi will be located in a remote area of the city which undermines its economic efficiency, but since it is just a demonstration project we just want to complete one first and show it to the public,” Wang said.

China aims to raise total nuclear capacity to 58 gigawatts by the end of next year, but it has not launched any new conventional reactors in more than three years.

China expected to miss target for 2020 nuclear capacity
After Japan’s Fukushima accident in 2011, China conducted a root-and-branch safety review and decided it would only use the most advanced “third generation” technology for any new projects.
However, those technologies – including Westinghouse’s AP1000 and the Areva-developed EPR – have proved to be expensive, complex and prone to long construction delays.
In a bid to broaden its options, the country is developing smaller units and plans to launch its first “small modular reactor” on the island province of Hainan at the end of this year.
China also planned to launch floating nuclear reactors with the aim of developing a fleet of ship-mounted nuclear generators that could be deployed on islands in Southeast Asia, Song Danrong, a reactor designer at CNNC, told Monday’s conference.
This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Pilot nuclear reactor may replace coal in north
After brief pause, China rushes to build more nuclear power plants

After brief pause, China rushes to build more nuclear power plants

China General Nuclear Power and rival China National Nuclear plan to build four more reactors on mainland

China General Nuclear Power and rival China National Nuclear plan to build four more reactors on mainland

Under draft rules, nuclear power projects in China will need local support

Under draft rules, nuclear power projects in China will need local support

08/07/2019

China expert lays out trillion yuan nuclear path for belt and road plan

  • Senior industry official Wang Shoujun predicts up to 30 reactors could be built over next decade
  • Calls for more financial and policy support for sector to optimise export trade
A Hualong One ZH-65 steam generator, part of China’s home-grown nuclear technology which it is hoping to export as part of its Belt and Road Initiative. Photo: Xinhua
A Hualong One ZH-65 steam generator, part of China’s home-grown nuclear technology which it is hoping to export as part of its Belt and Road Initiative. Photo: Xinhua
As many as 30 nuclear reactors could be built by China over the next decade as part of the Belt and Road Initiative, a senior industry official told a meeting of the country’s top political advisory body this week.
Wang Shoujun, a standing committee member of the China People’s Political Consultative Conference, told delegates on Wednesday that China needed to take full advantage of the opportunities provided by the belt and road plan and give more financial and policy support to its nuclear sector.
China-built reactors may have advantage over foreign competitors
“‘Going out’ with nuclear power has already become a state strategy, and nuclear exports will help optimise our export trade and free up domestic high-end manufacturing capacity,” he said, according to a report on the CPPCC’s official website.
Wang said China needed to improve research and development, localise the production of key nuclear components, and grow both the domestic and foreign nuclear markets to give full play to the country’s “comprehensive advantages” in costs and technology.

Wang, also the former chairman of the state-owned China National Nuclear Corp, said nuclear projects under the belt and road plan could earn Chinese firms as much as 1 trillion yuan (US$145.52 billion) by 2030, according to more details of his speech published by BJX.com.cn, a Chinese power industry news portal.

He said 41 nations taking part in the belt and road plan already had nuclear power programmes or were planning to develop them, and China only needed to secure a 20 per cent market share to create five million new jobs in the sector, according to the news portal.

The CPPCC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

China is in the middle of a reactor building programme which it hopes will serve as a shop window to promote its home-grown designs and technologies overseas, especially its own third-generation reactor design known as Hualong One.

But the pace of construction at home has slowed amid technological problems and delays at some key projects, as well as a suspension of new approvals that lasted more than three years.

Wang, according to BJX.com.cn, said there was overcapacity among local nuclear manufacturers, but the domestic market value for nuclear equipment could reach more than 48 billion yuan a year within two years. He did not say how much it was worth currently.

Source: SCMP

08/07/2019

Six dead after freak tornado tears through town in northern China

  • Homes destroyed and trees uprooted as destructive forces rips area apart in 15 minutes
Residents try to pick up the pieces after a deadly tornado destroyed homes and factories in Kaiyuan, Liaoning province, on Wednesday afternoon. Photo: Weibo
Residents try to pick up the pieces after a deadly tornado destroyed homes and factories in Kaiyuan, Liaoning province, on Wednesday afternoon. Photo: Weibo
At least six people died and 190 were injured when a tornado struck a city in northeastern China on Wednesday, according to police.
The freak tornado formed in Jingouzi township in Kaiyuan, Liaoning province, at about 5pm, reaching speeds of about 23 metres per second before weakening after roughly 15 minutes, state news agency Xinhua reported.
A tornado carves a path of destruction through Kaiyuan in Liaoning province on Wednesday. Photo: Xinhua
A tornado carves a path of destruction through Kaiyuan in Liaoning province on Wednesday. Photo: Xinhua
It tore through the township, demolishing homes, uprooting trees, and stripping factories of cladding in the city’s economic development zone, according to a Beijing News video posted online.
The Beijing Times website quoted a resident as saying that she saw at least one car tossed into the air and buildings smashed by the tornado.
Kaiyuan in Liaoning province is counting the toll of destruction from a deadly tornado on Wednesday. Photo: Weibo
Kaiyuan in Liaoning province is counting the toll of destruction from a deadly tornado on Wednesday. Photo: Weibo

“Power went off in surrounding areas as the tornado went by. About two or three minutes later there was thunder and then it hailed,” Red Star News quoted a high school student as saying.

Kaiyuan issued an emergency alert and sent about 800 police officers, firefighters and medical personnel to the area.

Two children killed as bouncy castle destroyed by tornado in China
By Thursday, about 210 people had been rescued and some 1,600 evacuated, The Beijing News said. About 10,000 people were also “displaced”.

“There are 63 people in hospital now with 15 in critical condition,” Beijing Times quoted Yu Shuxin, director of Kaiyuan’s emergency management bureau, as saying.

“Communication systems have recovered in most areas. Electricity infrastructure was severely damaged but we’ll try our best to get the power supply back up.”

The wild weather brought down power lines and cut communications in some areas. Photo: Weibo
The wild weather brought down power lines and cut communications in some areas. Photo: Weibo

Tornadoes are so rare in China, particularly the country’s north, that it does not have a specific alarm for it, according to a website backed by the China Meteorological Administration.

In 2016, 99 people died and more than 800 others were injured in a tornado in Funing county, Jiangsu province.

Source: SCMP

07/07/2019

Lhasa launches 80 new energy buses to protect environment

LHASA, July 6 (Xinhua) — Eighty buses using new energy have been put into use Saturday morning in Lhasa, the capital city of China’s southwest Tibet Autonomous Region, which will help reduce vehicle exhaust emissions and further improve the local air quality.

The new buses are all plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, equipped with Tibetan-Mandarin bilingual station announcements, driving monitoring and management systems, and auto-alarms, according to the city’s bus operation company.

The company purchased 110 new energy buses after the city’s 104 old buses reached their service lives. The other 30 buses are scheduled to be put into operation by the end of this month. By then, Lhasa will have 422 new energy buses, accounting for more than 80 percent of the city’s total buses.

“Our goal of vigorously promoting new energy vehicles is to implement the low-carbon and green way of traveling, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and to protect the clear water and blue sky of the snowy plateau,” said Gogyi, general manager of the company.

Lhasa plans to replace its old buses with new energy ones by batches, and all of the city’s buses are expected to be powered by new energy by 2021, said Gogyi.

Currently, Lhasa has 522 buses and 41 bus routes, covering the main urban areas, suburbs and surrounding counties, making it more and more convenient for locals to travel by public transportation.

Source: Xinhua

07/07/2019

China’s Sichuan earthquake death toll rises to 12, with 134 injured

  • Authorities report roads closed and 10,000 buildings damaged after magnitude 6.0 quake on Monday night
  • More than 100,000 people affected
Residents gather in the open in Changning county on Monday night after a magnitude 6.0 hit the area. Photo: Xinhua
Residents gather in the open in Changning county on Monday night after a magnitude 6.0 hit the area. Photo: Xinhua
The death toll from a strong earthquake which hit the southern Chinese province of Sichuan late on Monday night has risen to 12, with 134 people injured.
More than 100,000 people were affected – mostly in the epicentre at Changning county in Yibin, while more than 10,000 buildings were damaged, according to a statement by the local government on Tuesday.
Land subsidence and a landslide caused by the magnitude 6.0 quake, blocked a highway, several major roads and numerous village roads, the statement said, while a major bridge in the area was also at risk.
The Yixu highway in Changning had been closed and authorities were assessing the Dongdi Bridge. The Yibin government statement also said workers had been sent to clear the affected village roads.

According to the US Geological Survey, the earthquake was centred at a fairly shallow depth of 10km (6 miles). Shallow earthquakes tend to cause more damage to buildings and infrastructure.

An aftershock measuring magnitude 5.2 later hit the same area, the USGS said.

More than 300 firefighters were sent to the scene overnight, as well as rescue personnel with 5,000 tents, 10,000 folding cots and other emergency supplies, according to state news agency Xinhua.

In 2008, China’s worst earthquake in recent years struck the mountainous western portion of Sichuan province, leaving 87,000 dead, 370,000 injured and 5 million people homeless. That earthquake was about 400km (249 miles) from Monday’s earthquake.

A 1976 earthquake centred in the northeastern city of Tangshan killed at least 250,000 people.

Source: SCMP

04/07/2019

Sri Lanka could help Chinese manufacturers offset trade war impact

  • Development minister leads high-level investment forum in Beijing
  • Points to free trade agreements and preferential duty deals to offset trade war pressures for Chinese factories
Sri Lankan Minister for Development Strategies and International Trade Malik Samarawickrama at the Sri Lanka Investment Forum in Beijing on Wednesday. Photo: Simon Song
Sri Lankan Minister for Development Strategies and International Trade Malik Samarawickrama at the Sri Lanka Investment Forum in Beijing on Wednesday. Photo: Simon Song
Sri Lanka is wooing Chinese manufacturers, urging them to make use of its preferential duty-free treatment by the US and Europe as a way to offset the growing tariff pressure of the trade war.
The country’s development minister, Malik Samarawickrama, was in Beijing on Wednesday as part of an investment forum at the Sri Lankan embassy attended by dozens of Chinese businesspeople.
“China has invested heavily in infrastructure and they are assisting us to invest in ports, roads, railways, water supplies and so on. Now we would like China to get involved in setting up their manufacturing plants in Sri Lanka, primarily for the purpose of exports,” he said.
“They can make use of the preferential market access we have – we have duty free access to the European Union countries and we have free trade agreements with Pakistan, Singapore and India. And, since the cost of manufacturing in China is going up, we would like the Chinese to look at Sri Lanka for their manufacturing and we want it to be exported back to China.”
Sri Lanka, bruised from Easter bombings, seeks US$1 billion loan from China
Along with trade officials and diplomats, Samarawickrama, one of Sri Lanka’s most senior government ministers, was also keen to boost investor confidence following the deadly Easter Sunday bombings in Colombo which killed 253 people.
“Let me assure you, absolutely, Sri Lanka is safe for investment,” he told the dozens of representatives from Chinese state-owned and private companies who attended the forum.

“We must bring to your notice that none of the industries have been affected as a result of the bombings and none of the export orders were cancelled or delayed. This is a testament to the resilience of the economy.”

China is one of Sri Lanka’s largest trading partners and – sometimes controversially – the largest financier of its booming new infrastructure. Other big lenders to the island nation are the Asian Development Bank and Japan.

Earlier this year the Sri Lankan government signed a US$989.5 million loan agreement with China’s Export-Import Bank for a major new motorway project. And last month Sri Lanka’s finance ministry confirmed it was in talks with the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) for a further loan of nearly US$1 billion for energy and motorways.

Did Japan and India just launch a counter to China’s Belt and Road?
The surge of Chinese investment has raised concerns that Sri Lanka could become caught up in the rivalry between China and India as Beijing seeks to expand its influence in South Asia and the Indian Ocean.
Last month, Sri Lanka signed an agreement with India and Japan to jointly develop the East Container Terminal at the Port of Colombo, which some observers said could become a competitor to the China-funded Hambantota Port, and was perhaps a sign that the island nation was seeking to neutralise the growing influence of China.
Samarawickrama denied claims the involvement of Japan and India in Sri Lanka’s biggest port project was to counter China’s influence.
Under the agreement, he said, the terminal was owned by Sri Lanka Port Authority, with a 51 per cent stake, while Japan and India would develop the remaining 49 per cent.
“We need the expertise from Japan,” Samarawickrama said. “We need the Indians to get involved in the operation because 75 per cent of the transshipment cargoes in the Colombo port come from India and India is extremely important to us.
“They are the operators of the terminal and they are not building any ports.”
Source: SCMP
01/07/2019

First China-Africa Economic, Trade Expo closes in central China

CHANGSHA, June 30 (Xinhua) — The first China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo closed Saturday in Changsha, the capital city of central China’s Hunan Province.

A total of 84 deals worth 20.8 billion U.S. dollars were reached in trade, agriculture, tourism and other fields during the three-day event, which saw 14 activities, including the opening ceremony, seminars, conferences and forums, as well as an exhibition.

Experts, businessmen and officials from China and African countries discussed the new methods of the cooperation between the two sides during the event.

International organizations including the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, the World Food Programme and the World Trade Organization have sent representatives to the expo.

The expo, with an exhibition area of more than 40,000 square meters, attracted over 100,000 guests and traders, including those from 53 African countries, according to the organizing committee.

Source: Xinhua

29/06/2019

Belt and Road Economic Information Partnership to build info bridge

BEIJING, June 28 (Xinhua) – Set to build an “information bridge” for the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) construction, attendees of the Belt and Road Economic Information Partnership (BREIP) in Beijing believed it would reduce the “information deficit” between countries.

The partnership, designed to eliminate information asymmetry in implementing the BRI, offers demonstration, guidance and services to participants of the BRI, and create a new platform for international cooperation.

The platform of BRInfo, operated and maintained by China Economic Information Service (CEIS) under Xinhua News Agency, allows BREIP members to share information and conduct cooperation.

Alfred Schipke, IMF Senior Resident Representative for China, said it would be important to strengthen policy frameworks and foster capacity development in China and in partner countries.

“The effective sharing of information will be more and more important. Here, the BREIP could be a key platform,” Schipke said.

New commercial opportunities will surely be created with information from professional institutions and needs of enterprises brought together, so as to promote mutual understanding, said Liu Zhengrong, vice president of Xinhua News Agency.

The BREIP, offering news service and information assurance, has provided a platform of news and economic information for countries and regions to expand cooperation, noted Marat Abulkhatin, first deputy chief editor of TASS Russian News Agency.

Domestic information reports growing significance now in global market, and under the BRInfo mechanism, news agencies can help to further eliminate information asymmetry, said Raphael Juan, director of markets at Brazilian CMA News Agency.

Polish government and enterprises look forward to better understanding different market situations and making better decisions with the economic information shared on the BREIP, said Ryszard Marcin Nizewski, product director with Polish Press Agency.

The BRI has made great contributions to international trade and the international economy, and its achievements have far exceeded expectations. It is believed that the BREIP will also become a multi-faceted cooperation tool, according to Dzmitry Prymshyts, deputy director for Research and Innovation of the Institute of Economics of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus.

This platform could decrease the “information deficit” between countries while growing into a timely, objective and solid source of information, Prymshyts said.

The BREIP, established in Beijing on Thursday, was initiated by Xinhua News Agency and co-founded by more than 30 institutions including well-known news agencies, information service providers, research institutions, chambers of commerce and associations from more than 20 countries and regions in Asia, Europe, Africa, Latin America and Oceania.

Source: Xinhua

28/06/2019

Xinhua Headlines: China-Africa trade expo to forge closer economic partnership

Xinhua Headlines: China-Africa trade expo to forge closer economic partnership

Justin Yifu Lin, former senior vice president and chief economist at the World Bank, delivers a speech at the China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo in Changsha, central China’s Hunan Province, June 27, 2019. (Xinhua/Xue Yuge)

by Xinhua writers Cao Kai, Chu Yi, Yang Jian and Zhang Yujie

CHANGSHA, June 27 (Xinhua) — The first China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo opened Thursday in Changsha, capital of central China’s Hunan Province, in a move to forge closer economic ties between the largest developing country and the largest developing continent.

The three-day event has attracted more than 10,000 guests and traders, including those from 53 African countries, according to the organizing committee.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has sent a congratulatory letter.

The expo, announced at the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) last September, was established to provide a platform for deepening economic and trade cooperation between the two sides, he stressed.

It is hoped that the two sides will strengthen coordination to better implement the eight major initiatives put forward at the Beijing summit of the FOCAC, actively explore new paths for cooperation, open up new points of growth for collaboration, and promote China-Africa economic and trade cooperation to a new level, Xi said.

“Industrial development and free trade amongst ourselves will foster faster growth for our mutual benefit,” said Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni at the opening ceremony. “This Forum should, among others, enable us to devise ways of turning these rays of hope into a reality.”

Hailing the long-term friendship with Africa, Chinese Vice Commerce Minister Qian Keming said at the expo that bilateral trade and economic cooperation should be practical and concrete to meet the development needs of African countries in areas such as infrastructure and talent cultivation.

China saw 3 percent year-on-year growth of foreign trade with African countries in the first five months this year, hitting 84.8 billion U.S. dollars. China’s direct investment to the continent has increased by 1.5 billion U.S. dollars in the past five months, up 20 percent year on year, according to Qian.

According to Assome Aminata Diatta, Senegal’s Minister of Trade and SMEs, China is an ideal partner for Africa to improve its capacity building when China is seeking higher-quality growth driven by innovation.

Bringing modern production lines to Africa, especially in the special economic zones, will likely provide tens of millions of jobs for Africa, accelerate its industrialization and improve the trade structure between China and Africa, Diatta said.

China has set a good example for other developing countries, especially those in Africa which, having a lot in common with China, may benefit from mutual complementarity in the area of development, said Justin Yifu Lin, former senior vice president and chief economist at the World Bank.

The experience, wisdom and programs that China will offer are very good reference for African countries that are now eager to work themselves out of poverty and pursue development, Lin said.

After the opening ceremony, 13 cooperation projects involving eight African countries were signed, worth a total of more than 2.5 billion U.S. dollars.

Conferences, seminars, forums and exhibitions focusing on agriculture, trade, investment and infrastructure construction will be held during the expo, with experts sharing views on closer bilateral exchanges.

The expo will feature exhibition areas covering more than 40,000 square meters, including national pavilions and display areas for enterprises that showcase the achievements and opportunities of China-Africa economic and trade cooperation.

TRADE AND INVESTMENT

With the theme “Win-Win Cooperation for Closer China-Africa Economic Partnership,” the expo, which will become a biennial event, will open a new chapter in the history of bilateral trade.

“Nigeria has a lot of non-oil products of high quality and we want China to buy more,” Uduak M. Etokowoh, an official with the Nigerian Export Promotion Council, told Xinhua.

Nigerian gemstones, Namibian oysters, Kenyan coffee and tea as well as South African wine are attracting many Chinese visitors at the expo.

“We used to export leather materials to Italy and Spain, who now have a wobbling economy,” said Nigerian businessman Mustapha Tijjani Garo. “We are now looking east for the market.”

China has been the largest trading partner of Africa for ten consecutive years. In 2018, trade volume between China and Africa amounted to 204.2 billion U.S. dollars, up 20 percent year on year.

China’s imports of non-resource products from Africa have increased significantly. In 2018, China’s imports from Africa went up 32 percent year on year, with the imports of agricultural products up 22 percent.

“Namibian oysters are selling well in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou,” said Rinouzeu Katjingisiua. “We are hoping to find more partners here.”

For Chinese businessmen, with mounting pressure on labor-intensive industries as cost is surging and industrial upgrading is urgently needed, Africa is a great destination.

Wang Lianfang, owner of Qiqihar Quanlian Heavy Forging Company Ltd. based in northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province, set up an assembling plant in Senegal two years ago to find new markets amid slump domestic demand on agriculture machinery.

“Africa has strong demand,” said Wang, who is selling seeders, tractors and harvesters in the west African country.

“The output is expected to reach 2 billion yuan (291 million U.S. dollars) within 5 years,” said Wang, adding that the company has been working hard for survival in the past three years.

The transfer of labor-intensive industries from China can also give a strong push to Africa’s industrialization and modernization. It will expedite the economic take-off of Africa in the same way as how the industrial transfer had benefited China, Justin Yifu Lin said.

AGRICULTURE AND POVERTY REDUCTION

With abundant resources, a large population and a vast market, Africa is still the poorest continent and falls behind in the overall context of development and is battling poverty and hunger.

For 11 years, paddy land has been Hu Yuefang’s battlefield in Madagascar to fight against poverty.

“Madagascar can reach the self-sufficiency in rice as long as 15 percent of its rice planting area belongs to hybrid varieties,” Hu Yuefang said, adding that the average yield of hybrid rice produced by Chinese technologies in Africa is two to three times more than that of local ones.

Buried in the field all day, the 61-year-old agriculture expert from Yuan Longping High-tech Agriculture Co. Ltd. (LPHT) has been on the frontier of closer agriculture cooperation between the two sides.

He said though he could not come to the scene, he expected fruitful results from the inaugural expo to help tackle challenges and bring shared benefits to China and Africa.

China took deliberate steps using the agriculture sector to transform its economy by setting up favorable agricultural policies, the experience of which can be learned by us to accelerate our development, according to Ugandan Minister of Agriculture Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempijja at the expo.

“We strongly believe that by working together with our Chinese friends through joint venture businesses, investment arrangements and win-win cooperation, the majority of African countries can quickly eradicate poverty,” he said.

Hunger has long been bothering African countries. To help relieve the grain shortage, Chinese agricultural enterprises and experts, like Yuan, have been devoted to the continent for years, sharing China’s wisdom and experience.

“We put red flags on the map to show our steps in promoting hybrid rice in Africa in recent years, which have covered nearly 20 countries in southeastern, western and northern parts of the continent,” said Yao Zhenqiu, LPHT’s deputy general manager.

Guided by Yuan Longping, China’s “Father of Hybrid Rice,” the LPHT expert team has successfully cultivated five kinds of high-yielding hybrid rice seeds suitable for the local soil and climate.

So far, Chinese experts and technicians have carried out more than 300 small-scale projects in nine African countries, promoted 450 agricultural technologies, and trained nearly 30,000 local farmers and technicians, according to Ma Youxiang, an official with China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, at the expo.

“We will continue to send high-level agricultural experts and vocational education teachers to African countries, to further expand training in Africa and help cultivate more talent in agriculture,” he said.

The World Food Programme (WFP), the food assistance branch of the United Nations, is also taking the expo as an opportunity to meet Chinese business society to tackle food problems in Africa.

WFP will work with China to help Africa achieve the goal of ‘Zero Hunger’, said Qu Sixi, WFP China Representative.

Source: Xinhua