By Ding Xiguo, Liu Ziling & Li Laifang
Beijing (XINHUA) – After more than 10 years of development, the TEDA Cooperation Zone, a trusted platform for investment and cooperation between enterprises of China and Egypt, is upgrading by adding new industries.
By June 2021, the China-Egypt TEDA Suez Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone had attracted 117 enterprises in new building materials, petroleum equipment, voltage equipment and machinery manufacturing, with investment amounting to over US$1.2 billion. The zone, a model for China’s overseas economic zones along the Belt and Road development initiative, comprises a 1.34-sq-km starting area and a 6-sq-km expansion area that is still under construction.
“In the coming five years, we will upgrade the zone into a green modern industrial town featuring perfect infrastructure, complete supporting service systems, a complete industrial chain and sustainable development,” said Wei Jianqing, executive general manager of China-Africa TEDA Investment Co., Ltd., the China-funded developer of the zone, during the Second China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo which closed on Wednesday in central China’s Hunan Province.
Based on the existing enterprises, the zone plans to extend the industrial chain to include new industries, such as the manufacturing of solar and wind power equipment for green development, said Wei, who talked with several solar power enterprises at the fair.
Both the China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo and the construction and upgrade of economic and trade cooperation zones in Africa are part of the industrial promotion initiative at the 2018 Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation. The initiative was one of the eight major initiatives proposed by China to build an even closer China-Africa community with a shared future in the new era.
TRANSFORMATION AND UPGRADING
Statistics showed 25 Chinese economic and trade cooperation zones have been established in 16 African countries so far. As of 2020, the cooperation zones, registered with the Ministry of Commerce, had attracted 623 enterprises, with a total investment of US$7.35 billion and creating over 46,000 jobs.
“China-Africa economic and trade cooperation is at a critical period of transformation, upgrading, and improving quality and efficiency,” said Wang Bingnan, China’s vice minister of commerce, at the opening ceremony of the expo.
Another of China’s overseas economic and trade zones, Lekki Free Trade Zone in Lagos, Nigeria, has been built as a modern satellite city integrating production, living, leisure and entertainment.
After 15 years of development, the zone has 161 registered enterprises at present, operating in sectors such as oil and gas storage, furniture manufacturing, engineering construction services, industrial real estate and automobile assembly. The accumulated investment of enterprises in the park has exceeded US$337 million.
Tapping business opportunities in emerging industries and business form, the zone is aimed at attracting more enterprises in the sectors of logistics, e-commerce and overseas warehousing, said Lai Siqing, expatriate executive of China-Africa Development Fund (CADFund) and director of Nigeria Lekki Free Trade Zone.
He added that the zone is in contact with leading Chinese logistics and e-commerce companies and will build an exposition center to improve services to new business forms.
Targeting a high-quality industrial park, the Sino-Uganda Industrial Park has set strict standards for selecting enterprises, turning down companies engaged in industries that are not environmentally friendly, said Zhang Zhigang, chairman of the industrial park.
NEW DYNAMICS, HIGH QUALITY
China has been Africa’s largest trading partner for 12 consecutive years. Bilateral trade registered robust growth this year, with trade volume rising 40.5 percent year on year to US$139.1 billion in the first seven months — a record high, year on year, according to China’s Ministry of Commerce.
E-commerce is a rapidly developing sector for China-Africa cooperation.
The first livestreaming e-commerce festival for African commodities was held at the China-Africa E-commerce Livestreaming Incubator of Hunan Gaoqiao Grand Market, a sub-venue of the Second China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo, promoting specialty products such as food, handicrafts, coffee, wine and home products.
Since the establishment of the incubation center last year, some 4,200 livestreaming shows have been organized, selling products worth 550 million yuan.
Meanwhile, China-Africa cooperation in infrastructure and investment is stabilizing and picking up across the board, and cooperation in the digital economy, smart cities, clean energy, 5G and other new businesses is thriving.
Cooperation in the pharmaceutical industry between China and Africa has been growing rapidly over the past decade. COVID-19 accelerated bilateral cooperation in this sector.
Sansure Biotech Inc., based in Changsha, the provincial capital of Hunan, has supplied 46 African countries with nearly 5 million COVID-19 reagents and instruments, Pierre Zhu, vice president of Sansure, told Xinhua.
Since the spread of COVID-19 in African countries, BGI Group has participated in prevention and control in Africa and promoted effective regional public health cooperation, building 10 COVID-19 testing laboratories in six African countries, according to Terence Xiong, vice president for the global development of BGI Group based in south China’s Guangdong Province, during a medicine and health seminar at the Second China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo.
“We also hope to use genetic testing technology to promote scientific research cooperation, such as pathogen research and biodiversity conservation,” Xiong added.
Infrastructure cooperation is the traditional advantage of China-Africa economic cooperation and has been a highlight of the high-quality construction of the Belt and Road between China and Africa.
During the expo, 17 cooperation contracts in transportation, energy, water conservancy, industry and agriculture were signed to help Africa boost green development and facility connectivity and foster endogenous impetus for development. The deals had a total value of US$6 billion.
In Africa, a key region of machinery giant SANY Group’s international development, the company will focus on major engineering projects and infrastructure construction to provide cost-effective products and more efficient ervices, said Liang Wengen, chairman of China’s SANY Group. The Changsha-based company first exported its products to Africa in 2002 and has long been a leader among Chinese exporters of machinery to the continent.
“The company will also actively share its experience in industrialization development with African enterprises, especially SANY’s experience in exploring intelligent manufacturing, to contribute more wisdom to Africa’s industrialization development and industrial upgrading,” Liang added.
The restructuring of the global industrial chain driven by the epidemic will bring great opportunities to Africa, and its position in the global industrial chain will be effectively enhanced, according to Song Lei, chairman of CADFund.
Africa’s natural resources and other advantages are further highlighted, and its great potential in urbanization and industrial development will be further released, he said at a forum on industry chain cooperation during the expo.
“Digital transformation of China’s economy has brought great help to agriculture, transportation, logistics, manufacturing and other key industries in the development of industrial chain, created a rapid development opportunity for China-Africa digital economy cooperation, and opened up new ideas for China-Africa industrial chain cooperation,” Song said.