Old friends of import expo crave for new opportunities amid pandemic recession

Photo taken on Nov. 3, 2020 shows a view of the National Exhibition and Convention Center (Shanghai), the main venue of the 3rd China International Import Expo (CIIE), in east China's Shanghai. (Photo by Wu Kai/Xinhua)

  Photo taken on Nov. 3, 2020 shows a view of the National Exhibition and Convention Center (Shanghai), the main venue of the 3rd China International Import Expo (CIIE), in east China's Shanghai. (Photo by Wu Kai/Xinhua)

SHANGHAI, Nov. 5 (Xinhua) — It is the third time exhibitor Roy Van Den Hurk has travelled all the way from Oceania to the Chinese financial hub of Shanghai for the China International Import Expo (CIIE), yet he still feels excited about the opportunities embedded in the Chinese market.

He even recorded his whole journey with a video camera this time.


For Van Den Hurk, who is the general manager of product with TheLand, a New Zealand’s dairy company, his firm has grown along with the development of the CIIE. TheLand has been exporting ultra heat treated milk and milk powder to overseas since 2018, the birth year of the company as well as the import expo.

“The first year of the CIIE, I thought we were very successful,” Van Den Hurk said. “Last year, the success was magnitude higher.” He is looking forward to more cooperation agreements, Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) and “making more customer relationships” by “selling higher quality products” after this year’s expo.

TheLand is not alone. It is only one of many old friends of the CIIE that have been seeking to tap the potential of the Chinese marketplace and share the bounty of China’s development.

For them, the import fair has become a fertile land fostering their business successes. As the COVID-19 outbreak is still raging, the new market opportunities the CIIE can offer have become even more valuable amid a pandemic recession.


Whether it’s Fortune 500 and industry-leading companies or small and medium-sized businesses, the CIIE has become a hub of market opportunities for them to grow and prosper in China.

“The CIIE offers great opportunities, particularly for African companies, to develop and promote their commercial brands in the Asian market and find partnerships and collaborations with Chinese operators,” said Afaf Rais, commercial director of IntelCare, a Moroccan cosmetics company.

Wang Juan, IntelCare’s general manager of China office, recalled that IntelCare has brought only several bottles of glycerin to Shanghai to test the waters when attending the first CIIE in 2018. From a little booth to a stand of 36 square meters, IntelCare has grasped the opportunities in the Chinese market and achieved annual sales of around 700,000 U.S. dollars with the help of the CIIE.

As Chinese President Xi Jinping said in his keynote speech via video at the CIIE opening ceremony late Wednesday, China will steadfastly expand all-around opening up and explore more efficient ways to connect domestic and foreign markets and share factors of production and resources.

“Our aim is to turn the Chinese market into a market for the world, a market shared by all and a market accessible to all,” Xi said. “This way, we will be able to bring more positive energy to the global community.”

“When the world economic landscape has undergone profound changes, and we feel the Chinese government’s determination and power of action to promote continuous improvement in the business environment and create market opportunities,” Anna Pawlak-Kuliga, CEO and president of IKEA China, said after watching Xi’s speech.

“The determination and efforts to expand openness, sharing China’s opportunities and promoting inclusive development have strengthened IKEA’s commitment to the Chinese market. The Expo will be a truly win-win platform for IKEA to grow and develop with the Chinese market, and to look forward to a bright future with Chinese society,” Pawlak-Kuliga added.


More than 2,600 companies worldwide, including both old friends of the past two expos and new comers, flocked to this year’s CIIE with their confidence in a resurgent Chinese market, and a desperate hope to huddle together and weather what the International Monetary Fund described as “the worst crisis since the Great Depression” of the 1930s.

“In a pandemic situation, you need collaboration, you need multilateral support coming together to fight these things,” said Allan Gabor, president of Merck China.

“It’s not something that any one country, any one company can do by itself, and then when you see how the vaccine effort has come together on a global basis. It gives you a lot of hope that science and technology is done in truly a multilateral fashion,” Gabor added.

Deuk-Kyu Hwang, president of China Samsung, appreciated China’s support for its recovery. He noted that its 20 manufacturing plants in China all quickly returned to normal operations after resuming work and production.

“Twenty-two charter flights with about 5,000 Samsung engineers entered China through the China-South Korea Fast Track to ensure the implementation of Samsung’s newly invested projects in China,” Hwang said.

Xi said in his speech that “no one can stay immune in a major crisis.”

“We need to build trust rather than second-guess each other; we need to join hands rather than throw punches at each other; and we need to consult rather than slander each other,” Xi added.

At a time of formidable challenges facing the world economy, the CIIE still stands as a viable platform for its old partners and new friends to bolster confidence and courage to tide over this difficult period together.

“We’re thinking that we can achieve even another magnitude higher again,” Van Den Hurk said.

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