Sampson Addai, a young Ghanaian businessman, attracted immense public attention with his handmade wooden crafts at a trade fair in Lanzhou, capital of northwest China’s Gansu Province. At his booth, he put on display an assortment of colourful wooden crafts with designs of animals and various exotic features.

“I learned wood carving from my father since my childhood,” Addai said. “All the wooden crafts exhibited here were handmade by me and my family members, and they sell well.”

The 25th China Lanzhou Investment and Trade Fair, which closed on Monday, has attracted more than 600 foreign guests from 42 countries including Zimbabwe, Ghana and Ethiopia.

Addai came to China to pursue business opportunities in 2006. He later settled down in Kunming, capital city of southwest China’s Yunnan Province, and opened his own wooden craft store.

Addai said his business in China began to prosper after the launch of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in 2013, which aimed to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe, Africa and beyond along the ancient trade routes of the Silk Road.

“I was invited to attend many trade fairs in various parts of China. Thanks to the business ties established at the fairs, my wooden products began to sell well,” he said.

First held in 1993, the fair in Lanzhou has become an important platform for the opening up of northwest China and has grown in importance as the country accelerates opening up to central and western Asia in recent years under the BRI.

Mary Chikoka-Mliswa, Governor of Mashonaland West province of Zimbabwe, said the trade fair presented a good opportunity for her province to broaden trade relations with Gansu province in areas such as energy and infrastructure.

In 2018, China-Africa trade reached 204.2 billion U.S. dollars, up 20 percent year on year. China has been Africa’s largest trading partner for 10 straight years.