by Olatunji Saliu
ABUJA, Nov. 7 (Xinhua) -- The ongoing maiden edition of China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai is a meaningful starting point that provides Africa with an opportunity to promote made-in-Africa products in the international market and key into the global value chain, a Nigerian expert has said.
In an interview with Xinhua on Tuesday, Charles Onunaiju, director of Center for China Studies in Abuja, said the CIIE offers a very robust dynamic market with effective demand, describing the world's first import-themed national-level expo as "a global marketplace".
According to Onunaiju, if countries representing the African continent make any reasonable impression there, that will give a concrete leeway to several African countries.
"They (the participating African countries) can convert this important moment into a permanent advantage for African industrialization efforts, for Africa's re-energized economy," Onunaiju said.
Scheduled to run from Monday to Saturday, the CIIE is a mega-exhibition which will see China and other countries attracting lucrative international businesses.
With the slogan, "New Era, Shared Future," the expo will strengthen business cooperation, open China's market wider and promote free trade.
The expo is a demonstration of China's faith in free trade and globalization, believing that trade can genuinely offer a way out for the African continent and many other developing countries, said Onunaiju, who is also an international relations expert.
Nigeria, Africa's largest economy, is showcasing export opportunities in solid minerals, oil and gas, movies and music, as well as agricultural products at the expo.
Onunaiju said for Africa, the CIIE is a historic opportunity to test its stamina, creative ability and innovative acumen in value-added products in the Chinese market and the global market at large.
"For Africa, there is no better opportunity to redress the so-called imbalance in global trade. China is not just offering investment, infrastructure, financial support, it is now offering market. The most important element in any meaningful development is the market," he said.
The expert advised African countries to take advantage of China's huge market of over 1.3 billion people that have the capacity to buy value-added made-in-Africa products.
China's imports from Africa hit 75.3 billion U.S. dollars, up 32.8 percent in 2017. On the other hand, China's exports to Africa reached 94.7 billion dollars, up 2.7 percent the same year. The trade surplus was around 19.5 billion dollars, down 45.2 percent year-on-year, according to data from China's General Administration of Customs.
"Today, China has offered the market. Now there is a guaranteed market for African value-added products, not just minerals and natural resource," he added.