Hunan province strives to build inland hub for opening-up

The Third China Africa Economic And Trade Expo Held In Changsha
Photo shows the third China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo held in Changsha, central China's Hunan province. (Photo from Hunan Daily)

By Sun Chao, Zou Xiang, 

On the streets of Changsha, central China’s Hunan province, it’s easy to buy an authentic cup of African coffee.

Leveraging the two major platforms hosted by Hunan province, namely the China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo and the China (Hunan) Pilot Free Trade Zone, Changsha has established a distribution, processing and trading center for non-resource products from Africa, where coffee is one of the most prominent product categories.

By integrating the entire chain from direct sourcing from Africa, domestic processing, brand incubation to sales, the overall cost of coffee products made at the center is around 30 percent lower compared to similar products on the market. As a result, the African coffee produced at the center can then be distributed and sold across the entire nation.

As a pioneer in China’s sub-national economic and trade cooperation with Africa, Hunan province has established trade relations with many countries and regions in Africa. 

It enjoys a solid foundation for economic and trade cooperation with Africa, with high compatibility in industries and strong market complementarity. One of the three major tasks of the China (Hunan) Pilot Free Trade Zone is to establish a pilot zone for China-Africa in-depth economic and trade cooperation.

In recent years, Hunan has accelerated its integration into Belt and Road cooperation, building the pioneering zone for in-depth China-Africa trade and economic cooperation with high standards. 

It has actively implemented strategies to enhance the development of the China (Hunan) Pilot Free Trade Zone, striving to build itself into an inland hub for opening-up. 

In 2022, the province’s foreign trade for the first time exceeded $100 billion, achieving a new milestone in its opening-up efforts.

So far, Hunan has established five international trade routes, including the China-Europe freight train service, the Chenglingji Port in Yueyang, the Hunan-Guangdong-Africa rail-sea intermodal transport corridor, the Huaihua International Land Port, and the air cargo hub centered around the Changsha Huanghua International Airport. 

Additionally, Hunan has made coordinated plans for logistics channels throughout the province and concentrated efforts to develop five international freight centers.

At the 12,000-squaremeter China-Africa E-commerce Livestreaming Incubator in the China-Africa Economic and Trade Cooperation, Promotion, and Innovation Demonstration Park in Changsha, African products are often promoted through livestreaming, including fresh flowers from Kenya, Ethiopian coffee, chili peppers from Rwanda, among others.

In recent years, the China-Africa Economic and Trade Cooperation, Promotion, and Innovation Demonstration Park has established an “African product brand warehouse,” attracting over 100 African products to settle in. 

Benefiting from an integrated cross-border e-commerce system that combines online channels, offline operations, and supporting services, the infrastructure for e-commerce logistics, financial settlement, and overseas warehouses is keeping improving. An increasing number of African primary agricultural products have established their own brands and are moving towards more advanced processing and higher value-added production.

So far, Hunan has established 18 national-level industrial parks, seven special customs supervision zones, and four comprehensive cross-border e-commerce pilot zones, which make a more comprehensive “testing ground” and resource base for Belt and Road cooperation.

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