Explainer: Hunan a rising test field for China-Africa cooperation
It is the third time the expo will take place in Hunan, one of the most active provinces in economic and trade ties with Africa and a trailblazer in China-Africa cooperation.
Here are some facts and figures on the province's booming cooperation with African countries.
ROBUST TRADE GROWTH
Hunan's trade with Africa has seen growth from 15.08 billion yuan (about 2.1 billion U.S. dollars) in 2012 to 55.66 billion yuan in 2022. Its trade figure last year ranked first in central and western China and eighth nationwide.
In the first four months of 2023, Hunan's trade with Africa soared by 90.4 percent, year on year. Notably, its imports of African agricultural products increased by 16.6 times. Natural and synthetic rubber and food also posted robust growth in imports.
So far, more than 100 varieties of African products have entered major shopping malls in Changsha.
Hunan's Department of Commerce has projected the province's trade with Africa to exceed 100 billion yuan by 2025, with an annual growth rate of above 25 percent.
Among 21 pilot free trade zones in China, the China (Hunan) Pilot Free Trade Zone has the task of building a "demonstrative highland" of cooperation between China and Africa.
The free trade zone is now home to the African Non-Resource Products Trade Center and the China-Africa Cross-Border RMB Center. It has been exploring new mechanisms of China-Africa cooperation, including barter trades with African countries that lack foreign currency reserves and new cross-border financial services.
Last year, the province saw China's first cross-border remittance and foreign exchange settlement of Kenyan shillings, which was provided by the China-Africa Cross-Border RMB Center under the Hunan branch of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, with the close collaboration of the Standard Bank's Kenyan office.
Hunan has also prioritized efforts to standardize the inspection and quarantine of African agricultural products that have entered into deals at the China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo, helping them gain market access to China.
Hunan is a major grain producer in China and home to the Hunan Hybrid Rice Research Center, founded by the "father of hybrid rice," Yuan Longping. Drawing from its strength in agricultural technologies, Hunan is helping African countries ensure food security and reduce poverty.
Seed companies from the province have piloted the planting of hybrid rice in 16 African countries and have carried out cooperation in breeding, scale farming, and technology transfer in 11 countries.
In 2019, the Hunan Hybrid Rice Research Center set up its Africa sub-center in Madagascar to develop hybrid rice breeds that suit local conditions and provide training.
The sub-center has helped increase the cumulative area of hybrid rice cultivation to 70,000 hectares in Madagascar as of 2023, with an average yield of around 7.5 tonnes per hectare, much higher than other local breeds that produce 3 tonnes per hectare