CHANGSHA, June 27 (Xinhua) -- The first China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo opened Thursday in Changsha, capital of central China's Hunan Province.
The three-day event has attracted more than 10,000 guests and traders, including those from 53 African countries, according to the organizing committee.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has sent a congratulatory letter.
"Industrial development and free trade amongst ourselves will foster faster growth for our mutual benefit," said Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni at the opening ceremony. "This Forum should, among others, enable us to devise ways of turning these rays of hope into a reality."
Hailing the long-term friendship with Africa, Chinese Vice Commerce Minister Qian Keming said at the expo that the bilateral trade and economic cooperation should be practical and concrete to meet the development needs of African countries in areas such as infrastructure construction and talent cultivation.
China saw 3 percent year-on-year growth of foreign trade with African countries in the first five months this year, hitting 84.8 billion U.S. dollars. China's direct investment to the continent has increased by 1.5 billion U.S. dollars in the past five months, up 20 percent year on year, according to Qian.
According to Assome Aminata Diatta, Senegal's Minister of Trade and SMEs, China is an ideal partner for Africa to improve its capacity building when China is seeking higher-quality growth driven by innovation.
Bringing modern production lines to Africa, especially in the special economic zones, will likely provide tens of millions of jobs for Africa, accelerate its industrialization and improve the trade structure between China and Africa, Diatta said.
Conferences, seminars, forums and exhibitions focusing on agriculture, trade, investment and infrastructure construction will be held during the expo, with experts sharing views on closer bilateral exchanges.
The expo will feature exhibition areas covering more than 40,000 square meters, including national pavilions and display areas for enterprises that showcase the achievements and opportunities of China-Africa economic and trade cooperation.
Launched under the framework of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, the expo establishes a new mechanism for economic and trade cooperation between China and African countries.