China and African nations have proposed the establishment of a liaison mechanism to enhance cooperation in sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) standards. This mechanism aims to streamline inspection and quarantine rules, a crucial step in facilitating the export of agricultural food products from Africa to China.
The China-Africa Sanitary and Phytosanitary Cooperation Forum, held in Hunan Province, Central China, attracted over 180 representatives from China and various foreign nations. During the forum, a joint statement on SPS cooperation was issued, and the launch of the China-Africa SPS cooperation information website was announced. Wang Lingjun, deputy director of China’s General Administration of Customs, signed market access agreements for agricultural and food products with delegates from Madagascar and Zimbabwe at the event.
Wang emphasized that the administration will strengthen cooperation in inspection and quarantine with relevant government departments in African countries. Additionally, they will optimize market access assessment procedures for African agricultural and food products exported to China. Trade data from the administration shows that the volume of agricultural imports and exports between China and Africa increased from 33.3 billion yuan in 2012 to 58.6 billion yuan in 2022, with an average annual growth rate of 5.8 percent. In the first five months of 2023, trade volume surged 20.4 percent year on year, reaching 26.6 billion yuan.
African products such as aquatic goods, honey, sesame, peanuts, tobacco, wool, cotton, soybeans, coffee, and fruits have been consistently exported to China. Wang highlighted that the administration will expand the range of African agricultural and food products exported to China to promote comprehensive and high-quality development in China-Africa trade and maintain stability in global industrial and supply chains.
The forum is part of the third China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo, which commenced in Changsha. Within China’s 21 pilot free trade zones, the China (Hunan) Pilot Free Trade Zone has been designated as a “demonstrative highland” for cooperation between China and Africa. Hunan has prioritized standardizing the inspection and quarantine processes for African agricultural products included in expo agreements, facilitating their market access to China.
Xu Xiaohua, director of the Evaluation Center of the China-Africa Economic and Trade Promotion Council, highlighted the center’s efforts in facilitating bilateral trade and cooperation since its establishment in Changsha the previous year. Through the World Trade Organization, the center collects market information on supply and demand from 54 African countries, providing matchmaking services for Chinese and African enterprises and assisting in overcoming obstacles encountered in Hunan’s free trade experiments.