The China International Import Expo (CIIE) has helped to diversify China’s sources of imports and facilitate greater trade flows between China and Africa, says François Gamet, Head of Asia for Standard Bank Group & CEO of Standard Advisory (China) Ltd.

Transactions have been concluded on the back of the CIIE, representing a direct impact, but evidence of a wider indirect impact has also been seen, with customers learning about CIIE through Standard Bank’s marketing and looking to China as a potential trade partner, he says.

As the largest bank in Africa, Standard Bank Group, along with its strategic partner ICBC, has been attending the CIIE since its inception. It has also introduced 20 businesses from the continent to the expo.

Impressed by the size and diversity of the event, the bank intends to leverage the opportunity to access one of the world’s most consequential and dynamic markets to actively engage its client base.

At the most recent edition of the CIIE, Standard Bank hosted two stands: one in the financial services pavilion and the other in the agro-processing pavilion, greatly benefiting our customers who were predominantly from this sector, he says.

Gamet points out that many of Standard Bank’s customers who attended the CIIE have successfully negotiated sales agreements, with Chinese buyers purchasing products such as wines, fruits, nuts, chillies, and a variety of other agricultural and agro-processed goods.

For many clients, it was their first sale in the Chinese market and therefore an exciting, lucrative, new market entry for them. In some instances, these exporters had to increase capacity to meet their first orders, further indicating the extent to which the CIIE can benefit African businesses, says Gamet.

Though the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in slower economic growth this year, Gamet retains his confidence in the Chinese economy and the Belt and Road Initiative, which has brought important development opportunities to African countries.

Despite the gloomy economic outlook, the structural drivers in the China-Africa corridor remain intact, and are likely to re-assert themselves soon, he says.

Over the past 16 years, African countries have enjoyed a strong trade relationship with China. Statistics from the Ministry of Commerce show that bilateral trade between the two sides reached more than $200 billion in 2018, representing a year-on-year rise of 20 percent. China has now been the continent’s largest trade partner for 10 consecutive years.

Standard Bank remains committed to driving Africa’s growth and sees trade with China as key to supporting this commitment, says Gamet.

This year’s CIIE will take place from Nov 5 to 10 at the National Exhibition and Convention Center in Shanghai. So far, more than 90 percent of the planned business exhibition area has been reserved by exhibitors, according to the organisers.

And despite the current economic uncertainty, one thing seems certain, the trend for increased economic cooperation between China and Africa is set to continue.

More information of CIIE is as follows: with two editions successfully held since 2018, CIIE serves as the platform for international procurement, investment promotion, cultural exchange, as well as opening-up and cooperation.

The third edition of CIIE will take place in Shanghai from November 5th to 10th. Thousands of companies, which are leading players in their industries, will gather at the expo to showcase their products and services, and seek business opportunities with global buyers.

At CIIE, participants can both purchase a wide range of products from the world and can also sell their products to the world. CIIE helps drive investment both inward and outward and contributes to maintaining a stable global supply chain. CIIE welcomes global buyers to join the upcoming event and to share opportunities presented by China’s further opening up.