First China-Africa exhibition to take place in June in Changsha

The date is set: the first edition of the China-Africa Trade and Economic Exhibition will take place between June 18 and 20, this year in Changsha, capital of the Hunan province, central China.

The Chinese authorities hope to sign a series of bilateral agreements during the exhibition, also betting on the promotion of investment and the establishment of an unspecified "new mechanism" for future economic cooperation.

The biannual fair is aimed at a continent with 55 states, which currently has a global population of 1.2 billion people and a combined gross domestic product of 2.5 billion dollars.

This is the first Sino-African exhibition dedicated to trade and is part of the initiatives promised by President Xi Jinping during the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC, held in September 2018 in Beijing.

At the occasion, Xi Jinping promised, before the African leaders meeting in Beijing, that China would move forward with a set of win-win initiatives designed to give new impetus to economic, political and security cooperation among states.

Xi announced that Beijing would launch a major initiative for industrial promotion, aiming to encourage the increase of Chinese enterprises investing in Africa, to exempt the poorest nations from debt, increase imports from the mainland, help promote African products and brands, support the African Continental Free Trade Area and grant 100,000 scholarships and internship opportunities to the young African population.

Also, the promise to free the less developed African states from the payment of exhibition fees was raised at the China International Imports Exhibition.

Beijing's commitment to reinforce a win-win strategy with Africa comes when there are accusations against China, mostly from the United States, about encouraging dependency and debt on the part of the African states.

Chinese lending to the continent has increased tenfold over the last five years, with some observers warning that this pathway helps raise some states' debt limits to unsustainable levels.

However, in 2018, Beijing committed $60 billion for development projects in Africa for the next three years, thus broken down: 20 billion in lines of credit, 15,000 in aid and interest-free loans, 10 thousand for investment and five for import financing.