Helping African Brands Enter the Chinese Market
On November 29th, the Africa Reimagined team (some in Dakar and some in China) were eagerly awaiting President Xi Jinping’s speech at the opening ceremony of the eighth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC8) in Dakar, Senegal. Why? President Xi’s speech laid out the key agendas that would shape the Africa-China relationship for the next three years, and in turn, the fortunes of our clients at Africa Reimagined.
Africa Reimagined is a China market entry service platform and consultancy. We provide services – ranging from Chinese IP protection, market research to business matching – for specifically premium and sustainable African brands that keep their entire supply chain within Africa. Africa Reimagined is the flagship programme of Development Reimagined, a pioneering, international development consultancy headquartered in Beijing. Together with Development Reimagined, our mission revolves around cultivating sustainable, impactful development through helping high-end African brands enter the vast and growing Chinese market to boost Africa’s value-added exports and create more jobs across the continent,
Did China announce new opportunities to boost Africa-China trade at this year’s FOCAC? The simple answer is, yes, and more of them and more explicitly than ever before. FOCAC8 produced four key documents that laid out nine programmes to strengthen Africa-China cooperation and showed that the Africa-China relationship is becoming considerably more inclusive and receptive to the demands of African people and business. These four documents made more pledges to support African development initiatives and programmes than we had ever seen before.
What is refreshing is that all these trade programmes include practical measures that are already bringing new opportunities to African businesses.
In recent weeks, China’s pledge to create online shopping festivals promoting African products has resulted in Ethiopian and Rwandan coffee flying off the virtual shelves after Rwanda’s and Ethiopia’s ambassadors to China each participated in a promotional campaign to sell their country’s coffee. These campaigns are gradually increasing an awareness of and demand for value-added African products amongst Chinese consumers. Africa remains among China’s smallest regional trading partners, making up just 4% of China’s global trade of which most exports is still natural resources,
such as petroleum. Consequently, most Chinese consumers are unaware of what consumer products Africa has to offer. This is certainly not a missed opportunity and there will certainly be more promotional campaigns on China’s biggest e-commerce platforms and new specifically Africa-China e-commerce channels that your brand can access in 2022.
China has become Africa’s first partner to commit to developing a process to recognise Africa’s geographical indications. This will help increase the value of African products by indicating where the product originated and the qualities it possesses that is unique to its geographical origin. Promoting branded
Ethiopian and Rwandan coffee through online shopping campaigns is ensuring African products get the recognition and profits they deserve and reduces the likelihood of unroasted African coffee being exported to China and blended with Chinese coffee brands, which then receive most of the profits. The next step will be to move away from promoting only branded African agricultural products and include products such as South African gin with South African botanicals or Ethiopian fashion and jewellery brands that have a distinctly Ethiopian design – African brands from ALL sectors should watch this space!
African agricultural producers, including some of our clients, were no doubt very pleased to learn about these “green lanes because exporting agricultural products to China can be slow and expensive.
When our clients first approach us, they frequently complain that despite China already having trade facilitation mechanisms in place for most African counties to make the export process easier and cheaper – in particular, the Duty-Free Quota Free Scheme (DFQS) for Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) duty – they can be difficult, if not impossible, for many African agricultural producers to utilise.
One reason is that many important African agricultural exports, such as corn, raw cotton, rice, sugar, wheat, wool and wool fibre are still not covered by the DFQS and the ones that are covered may not be eligible because of the scheme’s restrictive Rules.
Some African agricultural producers don’t even attempt to utilise these schemes because they can’t meet China’s strict import requirements, such as its Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures. One example is the SPS requirement that Kenya must export only frozen avocados to China to kill pests.
African producers that do manage to export agricultural products to China can still find that they cannot benefit from the DFQS or MFN duty, or cannot clear customs because each Chinese port has different rules and information regarding SPS requirements and the DFQS or MFN duty. It is no surprise then that only 50% of African agricultural products enter China under the DFQS.
Our clients and partners include African governments, Chinese government departments, African ambassadors in China, African and Chinese businesses and UN bodies. Through our extensive networks, we are tracking the implementation of all the trade policies announced at FOCAC8 so that we can advise your business on how to make use of them.
We also strive to work with Chinese partners, including importers and distributors that recognise China’s trade policies regarding the DFQS, the MFN duty, SPS measures and the incoming “green lanes.”
All of this information can be found in our Bespoke China Market Research & Analysis Guide” or utilised through our “Matchmaking with Chinese Business Partners” and “Logistical Support from Africa to China” services.
Later this year, we will also be taking part in the digital innovation programme by launching the “Africa Reimagined” e-commerce store on JD-Worldwide, the cross-border e-commerce platform of China’s largest retailer, JD.com. It will be the first ever e-commerce store in China for exclusively premium African brands. In partnership with JD-Worldwide, we will support you throughout the whole process from registration, international and China-mainland logistics, storage and payment transfers so your business can access JD’s 387 million active users without having a physical presence in China.
Keep checking our website for updates or book your free consultation with us today!
Trevor Lwere is a Research and Coordination analyst at Development Reimagined with a background in Economics and Global Affairs. His interests include geopolitics, geoeconomics and economic development. He holds a Masters’ degree in Global Affairs fro Tsinghua University and a BA Economics from the University of Notre Dame.
Yuejie Shi is a Research and Data Analyst at Development Reimagined with a special focus on Global Trade and China-Africa Trade.
Sena Voncujovi is a research and policy analyst at Development Reimagined. Voncujovi specializes in global health issues, Japan-Africa relations, and China-Africa relations. He served as the Editor-in-chief of Peking University’s Africa Think Tank (PATT) during his master’s in International Relations & Politics as a Yenching Scholar. Voncujovi previously advised the Ghanaian government for the 2019 TICAD 7 Conference held in Yokohama. He is the co-founder of Jaspora, Tokyo’s largest community of African diasporan diplomats, changemakers, professionals, students, and business people.
Rugare is an economist at Development Reimagined, providing economic and data analysis support across projects.
Yixin is a Junior Research Analyst and her focus areas is on public-private partnership and entrepreneurship. She has over three years of working experience in both private and public sectors in Ethiopia. She was the China Liaison Officer for project ‘Partnership for Investment and Growth in Africa’ at International Trade Centre, where she accumulated rich experience in investment and trade promotion.
Ivory is a Kenyan lawyer with experience in policy research and analysis. She also supports the communications team through liaising with African brands, creating graphic content and other external outputs at AR. Ivory speaks English, Swahili and French
Huiyi Chen is a Research and Coordination Analyst on China-Africa cooperation and leading the engagement with Chinese stakeholders at Development Reimagined.
Jinyu is a dual-degree Master’s student at Sciences Po & Peking University. At Africa Reimagined, Jinyu produces research to foster better mutual understanding between African clients and Chinese consumers.
Yike Fu is a Policy Analyst and has been responsible for leading numerous areas of work, including on debt analysis in Africa and beyond, and China-Africa trade and investment logistics and analysis. She is the co-author of “African Debt Guide”, in which she challenged the narrative that Africa is in the midst of a new debt crisis by analysing data back to the 1970s and adopting new metrics to present the real story behind the data. She also developed a benchmark to compare the financial distribution of development partners such as the UK, US, Japan, France and China in Africa. Prior to her role at DR she worked at the International Finance Corporation and African Union Representational Mission to the US. She holds a Masters in International Affairs from George Washington University.
Rosie is the Project Manager of Africa Reimagined (AR) at Development Reimagined (DR) where she supports high-end African brands with entering the Chinese market by operating services such as trademark protection, Chinese market research, Chinese partnership building, and Africa to China logistical support and import/export services. Rosie has worked with DR for over two years now with proven success in helping high-end African brands navigate the Chinese market. She is extremely passionate about her work because more African brands selling in the Chinese marketplace means African countries can export MORE value-added goods, create MORE jobs and foster MORE innovation in African countries.
Leah Lynch is Deputy Director of Development Reimagined (DR), and head of the China office. Leah has over 10 years of experience in development and has lived in China for over 8 years. Leah has also travelled extensively around Asia and Africa for research. Leah supports the strategic direction of the team across China, with a mission to deliver high quality research on sustainable development and poverty reduction. Leah is also Chair of the Sustainability Forum at the British Chamber of Commerce in China, providing direction on sustainability initiatives for British and Chinese business. Leah has also consulted on various evaluations on UK aid (ICAI) and is a specialist on development cooperation from the UK and China. Leah has also consulted on various UN projects, including providing support to the UN China team during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Prior to DR, Leah was at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) China, supporting the UN’s portfolio on communication strategies, China’s South- South Cooperation and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Before UNDP, Leah lived and worked in Kenya developing sustainable water policies for the Kenyan government.
Hannah Ryder is the Founder & CEO of Development Reimagined. A former diplomat and economist with 20 years of experience, named one of 100 most influential Africans in 2021, she is also Senior Associate for the Africa Program of the Center for Strategic International Studies (CSIS), sits on the Board of the Environmental Defence Fund, and is a member of UAE’s International Advisory Council on the New Economy. Prior to her role at DR, Ms Ryder led the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)’s work with China to help it scale up and improve its cooperation with other developing countries, including in Africa. She has also played various advisory roles for the UN and OECD and co-authored the seminal Stern Review of the Economics of Climate Change in 2006.
We support our clients throughout the whole onboarding and sales process on Chinese e-commerce platforms including registration, international and China-mainland logistics, storage, payment transfers, and marketing & advertising strategies.
In addition to supporting our clients with onboarding onto e-commerce platforms or developing their own WeChat stores, we also have our own Africa Reimagined e-commerce stores for our clients to sell on.
Kiliselect on WeChat Stores: Africa Reimagined launched on Kiliselect, which is a foremost e-commerce store for premium African products in China and the Chinese branch of East Africa’s Kilimall. It houses brands from a range of sectors including food and beverage, skincare and homeware. Kiliselect is found on WeChat Stores, which gives the store access to 1.2 billion active WeChat users across China.
JD-Worldwide: Next year, Africa Reimagined will open the first ever flagship, pan-Africa e-commerce store for premium African brands on JD-Worldwide, the cross-border e-commerce platform of China’s largest retailer, JD.com. It will sell exclusively luxury African brands from a range of sectors including, fashion and jewellery, food and beverage, skincare. and homeware.