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China - Africa 6 November 2020

Standard Bank to use digital platforms to match African clients with China export opportunities at 3rd China International Import Expo

Standard Bank is hosting digital matchmaking events which connect African exporters with Chinese importers, to complement its physical participation at the China International Import Expo (CIIE) this year in Shanghai.

African clients from across the continent will be virtually “matched” for discussion on opportunities with potential Chinese buyers who are interested in importing African products. These buyers or importers are clients of Standard Bank’s strategic partner, the Industrial Commercial Bank of China (ICBC).

The digital event comes in response to challenges brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. Digital matchmaking forums also allow African exporters to participate in the activities of the import-led trade show without having to be there physically.

Standard Bank has participated in the CIIE since its inception in 2018, as it looks to grow trade and investment relationships between Africa and China. Philip Myburgh, Head of Africa China Banking at Standard Bank says: “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.”

Mr. Myburgh adds: “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 increased interest from its African client businesses who want to access China, and from those who are already exporting to the Asian country. “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.”

Standard Bank held recently piloted the digital matchmaking solution ahead of the CIIE, with a focus on four specific products from 21 African exporters. The ICBC hosted 40-plus importers, many of whom come from the Hunan province in China. Hunan province is a government-dedicated and strategic district for conducting trade and economic investment specifically in Africa.

In response to challenges brought on by the pandemic, Standard Bank will continue to roll out digital matchmaking as an additional capability to its existing export and import client solutions. “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,” says Mr. Myburgh.  

While agreements may be formed during these sessions, Standard Bank will be implementing follow-ups and can help clients throughout the entire trading process via its Africa China Export Proposition (ACEP). This proposition assists clients with the legal and logistical requirements of facilitating their exports to China throughout the year. The solution incorporates partnerships with logistics agents, helping customers with market scoping and intelligence on their products, and placement of products onto digital marketplaces in China.

“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,” says Mr Myburgh.

“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.”