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African commerce welcomes new steps

By OTIATO OPALI in Nairobi, Kenya | China Daily Global | Updated: 2023-01-09 08:59
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Travelers wait to pass through immigration checkpoints in Beijing Capital International Airport on Sunday. Under China's optimized COVID-19 response policy, passengers arriving from abroad are no longer required to undergo quarantine and a nucleic acid test. ZOU HONG/CHINA DAILY

African traders have welcomed China's changes to its COVID-19 response measures, which include no longer requiring inbound visitors to quarantine, effective on Jan 8, expecting a boom in bilateral trade.

Victorina Oningo, a Kenyan who lives in Qatar but imports car spare parts from China to Kenya, said China's move to facilitate international travel is a big boost for her business.

Oningo, who is in Kenya to celebrate the new year with her family, said her business has been affected by the pandemic over the past three years, so she was glad to hear about the changes.

"Things are looking up for those of us who depend on travel to China to secure our supplies."

Thadeus Musoke Nagenda, chairman of Kampala City Traders Association in Kampala, Uganda, said the news that inbound travelers to China will no longer need to go into quarantine when they arrive in the country has excited business people.

"We are happy that our traders will finally travel to China after a long period. This will make trade between the two countries easy."

Boosting trade

It will boost trade between Uganda and one of its major trade partners, he said.

In Togo, news of China's new COVID-19 response measures has been overwhelmingly welcomed by local traders. According to Television Togolaise, the country's state broadcaster, the number of calls in the country to inquire about overseas travel to China has risen.

"People want to go to China," Television Togolaise reported. "More courageous traders are already planning to make the much-awaited trip to China, and we believe they will open the way to other traders who might be hesitant about the new rules."

Togo imported goods from China worth $442 million in 2020, the World Bank says.

China has been Africa's largest trading partner since overtaking the United States in 2009. China is also a major investor on the continent, funding big infrastructure projects as part of the Belt and Road Initiative.

In 2020 China adopted strict measures for controlling and preventing COVID-19. Inbound visitors were required to quarantine in designated hotels for two weeks, followed by home quarantine. These and other control measures have now been scrapped.

On Wednesday, reacting to China's relaxation of restrictions, Kenya's Health Cabinet Secretary, Susan Nakhumicha, said her country had no plans for new measures for passengers traveling to Kenya from China, saying such a move would hurt the economy.

"In my view, I do not think it is going to be necessary for us to impose any travel restrictions on travelers from China."

Kenya is recovering economically, she said, "so I will not rush to impose any restrictions, but my call to Kenyans is that they should continue with vaccinations for those who have not been vaccinated".

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