African countries made the highest trade deals during the recently concluded China Import Export fair as developed nations wallowed in economic turmoil.
According to data released by the China Foreign Trade Centre (CFTC), the value of deals signed by African countries during the fair rose by 13.5 per cent while Europe and the United States recorded declines of 5.6 per cent and 8.1 per cent respectively.
The fair, also known as the Canton Fair, brings thousands of international buyers to Guangzhou to sample the latest products from China’s manufacturing industries. It occurs biannually in April to May and in November.
Statistics from the fair are indication of the shifting economic dynamics in the international arena as China turns its eye towards Africa while Europe and the United States struggle to recover their economic might.
“These new figures illustrate the rising of emerging markets as new stars of the world,” reads an official statement from CFTC.
India, Brazil and Russia recorded growth rates of about 4.1 per cent.
According to World Bank forecasts for economic growth in 2012, while high-income countries are expected to grow by about 1.2 per cent, developing countries will grow at an average rate of 5.4 per cent.
Overall, the Canton Fair recorded depressed transactions weighed down by the purchasers from the developed world.
Total export values fell by 2.3 per cent to about Sh3.1 trillion ($36.03 billion).
Eighty six per cent of all contracts were for medium- and short-term orders suggesting that the global financial crisis is further making purchasers cautious of spending money.
Given these figures, Chinese manufacturers have begun customising their products for markets in the emerging markets.
According to the organiser of Kenyan business trips to China, Mr Gao Wei, over the last two years it has become possible to purchase goods in smaller quantities at Chinese fairs in consideration of buyers with less purchasing power.
The statistics are also a reflection of growing cultural, economic and diplomatic ties between China and Africa.
China has provided Africans with millions of dollars in food aid and budgetary support.
Three Chinese media houses have set up shop in Kenya over the last one year.
Last week, the government of China increased the number of language and culture training institutes in the country by opening two new Confucius institutes.
In South Africa, the textile industry has taken a beating over the last decade as Chinese imports flood markets leading to falling revenues. In 2007, the government implemented an emergency quota on the imports to protect local industries.
Closer to home, the battle is over counterfeit and sub-standard products.
Kenya is currently trying to stem the flow of counterfeit phones into the country through a switch-off of these handsets.
The anti-counterfeit agency estimates that there are more than 2.3 million counterfeit handsets in use in Kenya, most of them imported from China.
In February, Kenya signed a pact with China to curb the flow of counterfeits into the country.
The pact will see China’s Certificate and Inspectorate Group evaluate export products meant for the Kenyan market.