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The CIIE is a global event designed for both developing and developed countries to carve their niche in China.

XinhuaUpdated: November 9, 2018

The CIIE is a global event designed for both developing and developed countries to carve their niche in China.

Visitors taste specialties at the booth of Jamaica at the first China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai, east China, Nov. 8, 2018. [Photo/Xinhua]

Officially known as the China International Import Expo, the event managed to attract over 3,600 exporters from 172 countries, regions and international organizations, who brought their products and services to an exhibition complex as big as some 40 soccer pitches combined.

Indeed, China is providing an arena for all players, large and small alike.

As developing countries set up national pavilions or company-based booths at the week-long event in Shanghai, they secured a place in this gigantic market which inadvertently demands both quality and diversity.

The emerging middle class and the young in today's China enjoy being unique, and this supersized expo, with over 400,000 imports on display, allows them to select from a broader range of and often overlooked sources.

One-of-a-kind handmade treasures from African, Southeast Asian and Pacific island countries, top-class coffee beans from El Salvador, Panama, Kenya and Rwanda, juice or alcohol with ingredients derived from plants or fruits exclusively grown in Azerbaijan and Belarus, and eco-friendly fabrics from countries like Lithuania, are likely to cater to the increasingly demanding and picky Chinese consumers.

Amongst the exhibitors, those from the less developed countries were offered two booths gratis at the fair.

Exporters and importers can now meet directly, and matchmaking services including interpreters and on-site legal-assistance are offered to facilitate businesses.

It will be great if new deals are made at the CIIE. Even if they bring home no deal, the establishment of new contacts creates the possibility of new business further down the road.

The import fair also gives small- and medium-sized companies from developing countries the opportunity to rub shoulders with the heavyweights.

Unlike what some Western media have said, this expo is not simply a gala of developing countries. The big guys cannot resist it, either.

Approximately 450 companies from Japan, some 180 from the United States, and about 170 from Germany are at this expo. One in three of the exhibits are from the six developed countries – the United States, Australia, Germany, Italy, Japan and South Korea.

For those who have already set their foot in China, the CIIE is not merely a muscle-flexing showpiece. It is a place to sniff out further opportunities in the Chinese market.

Booths displaying home automation products made by developed countries are packed with visitors, while the world's cutting-edge cloud video surveillance platform and other security management solutions are also mesmerizing. A number of tech firms attract consumers by debuting tailor-made products for the Chinese market.

The CIIE is also a chance for companies from developed countries to jointly develop with their counterparts in the Chinese market.

China, with its huge population and strong internet development, can provide rich resources for sandbox-experimentation in the global AI industry. This expo thus serves as the beginning for more multinationals to set up R&D centers in China -- a laboratory and field-test as well as a readily huge market all at once.

In May this year, BMW Group has become the first international carmaker to obtain the coveted Autonomous Driving Road Test License in China. The BMW Group has set up a strong local team in Shanghai, including over 60 experts in autonomous driving. One of their intelligent-connected-vehicles is on display at the BMW booth.

Also, as China puts greater emphasis on green development, an increasing number of companies with advanced environmental protection technologies are expected to penetrate the market.

As Roberto Azevedo, chief of the World Trade Organization, puts it, the Chinese market is open to everyone, and it now is up to every country to seize the opportunities.