Standard Bank, the parent company to Stanbic Bank, is organising digital matchmaking events aimed at connecting exporters from Africa with importers in China. This is done in a bid to complement its physical participation in the China International Import Expo (CIIE) held in Shanghai. Since the start of the CIIE in 2018, Standard bank has always taken part in the proceedings as it looks for ways to improve trade and investment relationships between Africa and China.
The bank plans to virtually match African clients from across the continent to discuss opportunities with potential Chinese buyers interested in bringing African products into China. These Chinese importers are clients of the Industrial Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), a strategic partner of Standard Bank.
This digital event is organised as a reaction to the challenges occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic. African exporters can participate in the activities of the import-led trade show organised by digital matchmaking forums without being physically present.
According to Phillip Myburgh, Standard Bank’s Head of Africa-China Banking: “The third CIIE arrives at a time when the facilitation of trade is crucial to offsetting the economic consequences of Covid-19. It is critical that we find new ways of connecting our customers to the markets that hold potential for African businesses to expand and grow.”
Myburgh continues: “Covid-19 has created opportunities on both fronts. African businesses are looking for opportunities to diversify and make up for losses experienced during the year. At the same time, Chinese importers are considering new markets to source products from amid geopolitical uncertainty. Many Chinese buyers are even looking at entering extended commitments (over one or five years) as opposed to agreeing to a single deal.”
Standard bank has received heightened interest from African client businesses who desire access to China and from others who are already exporting goods to China.
“Meanwhile, on China’s side, there is interest in gaining direct access to African manufacturers and suppliers. Many Chinese customers say they want to engage directly with suppliers, rather than agents. The interest has therefore piqued in the CIIE event as we are bringing the actual exporters themselves so that Chinese importers can engage with them directly,” says Myburg.
Focusing on four unique products from 21 African exporters, Standard Bank led a recent digital matchmaking event before the CIIE. More than 40 importers were hosted by the ICBC, most of whom were from the Hunan province in China. The Hunan province is a government-focused and strategic district for carrying out trade and economic investment principally in Africa.
As a means of tackling the problems resulting from the pandemic, Standard Bank will keep on providing digital matchmaking as an extra facility to complement existing export and import solutions.
According to Myburgh: “These events will happen virtually and will ensure, as a result of our strategic partnership with the ICBC, that African sellers are matched with the correct importers who have an interest in the exporter’s basket of goods.”
Although pacts can be formed in the course of these events, Standard Bank will be executing follow-ups and will provide assistance to clients all through the whole trading process through the ACEP (Africa China Export Proposition). The proposition aids clients with logistical and legal requirements for enabling their exports to China during the course of the year. This solution integrates partnerships with logistical agents, assisting customers with market research and information on their products, as well as the placement of products onto Chinese digital marketplaces.
“The virtual matchmaking sessions are tangible demonstrations of our persistent strategy to support our clients through creating a focused trade ecosystem around the Africa China corridor,”states Myburgh.
He continues; “We are positive about the uniqueness of our digital matchmaking at this year’s CIIE, and with fewer clients able to travel to China physically this year, Chinese importers are expected to be more intentional in their engagements and this could yield positive outcomes for African exporters and the continent as a whole.”