by Justice Lee Adoboe
ACCRA, June 23 (Xinhua) -- The aim of the Annual China Trade Week (CTW) exhibitions across Africa is to catalyze closer Sino-African trade and industrial relations, said Wang Hailin, chairman and founder of the MIE Group, organizers of the events.
The platform will ease the burden in the interaction between African businesses and their Chinese counterparts while enhancing their partnerships, Wang told Xinhua on the sides of the just ended CTW 2019 Ghana event.
"We started this as a concept in 2015 in line with the Chinese government's proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). It is to help bring Chinese businesses closer to the private sector in BRI countries," he explained.
The third CTW in Ghana ended this week and was supported by Ghana's Ministry of Business Development, Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ghana Investment Promotion Center (GIPC), the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry(GNGCI) as well as the Chinese Embassy in Ghana.
"Both the Chinese businesses and Africans used to go through brokers to interact with each other. They lose a lot of profit through that, with less quality control," he said.
"But now we are here, with this good platform for direct business-to-business discussions. So they are saving the cost of up to 30 percent," Wang added.
The final expected outcome of the CTW is to induce investments in industrialization in Africa by Chinese manufacturers.
In Ghana where the government is seeking support for its vision of "One District One Factory" (1D-1F), for instance, Wang explained that the investors would first like to test the market with their products before deciding to invest in manufacturing.
"The investors will invest here, starting from trading, and when they discover opportunities, they will set up the industry lines. But these investments will be with Ghanaian partners," he said.
"You know the investors cannot just come and at once put their money here to start manufacturing. But once they bring their products here and discover the opportunities in the market, with the right partners, the next step is that they start manufacturing here," he added.
Another role of CTW, he explained, is to hold seminars to sensitize people on how to tap into the numerous opportunities in both Africa and China.
"So this is the right platform created for the benefit of partners, and it is a win-win situation," he emphasized.
Since the beginning of the fair in Ghana in 2017, the value of the country's bilateral trade with China had grown to 7.2 billion U.S. dollars last year, he said, acknowleding also the contributions of other initiatives.
The 2019 events have already taken place in Kenya, Ethiopia, Morocco, and South Africa, leaving Nigeria in September and Rwanda later in the year.
In the future, the MIE Group, which started as Middle-East International Events, would like these country fairs to be held multiple times in a year, till there can be big continental fairs.
"Ghana is a growing market, and this is an important opportunity for us to see what can promote bilateral trade between Ghana and China," Carla Zwennes, Commercial Trade Manager for Mediterranean Shipping Company, commented in an interview with Xinhua.
She stressed the need for the collaboration to focus more on manufacturing in Ghana to use Ghana as their manufacturing hub for the West African market.
Member of Parliament (MP) Bernice Adiku-Heloo told Xinhua that a strong partnership between Ghana and Chinese investors could help actualize the "Ghana beyond Aid" agenda.
Adiku-Heloo, also former Deputy Minister for Environment, Science and Technology Innovation, described the fair as very impressive, urging a strong partnership between the manufacturers and the standards authority in Ghana to ensure that products to be made in Ghana were of the premium standard to capture the West African market.