Workers are busy at the factory of a manufacturing company in Shijiazhuang, north China's Hebei Province, Oct. 19, 2020. (Photo by Liang Zidong/Xinhua)
ROME, Oct. 28 (Xinhua) — The chief of Italy China Chamber of Commerce (CICC) said on Wednesday that it is essential for Italian companies that wish to do business in China to attend the China International Import Expo (CIIE) trade fair.
The comment by CICC Secretary General Marco Bettin came during a webinar on opportunities for Italian businesses in China held by the Banca Popolare di Sondrio, an Italian bank based in the northern Lombardy region.
Around 70 Italian companies will be attending this year’s edition of the CIIE, which runs on Nov. 5-10 and which has been held annually in Shanghai since 2018, Bettin said.
“The CIIE is the biggest trade fair in the world in terms of exhibition area, and it is extremely important for companies that want to penetrate the Chinese market, including small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), to be there,” Bettin said.
Bettin added that the CIIE is “a fundamental platform for acquiring and developing (business) relationships” and “an incredible showcase from the point of view of the (brand) image.”
He said that China’s economic recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic “has currently reached incredible levels.”
His opinion was echoed by Nina Ni, who is in charge of the Representative Office in Shanghai of Sintesi 2000, a company owned by Banca Popolare di Sondrio, which offers support to Italian companies wanting to do business in China.
China’s economic recovery in 2020 has been “stronger than expected,” Ni said. She noted that China’s further opening up in the financial sector has attracted new clients, with asset managers such as BlackRock and Vanguard officially entering the Chinese market in 2020.
While China’s gross domestic product (GDP) contracted by 6.8 percent in the first quarter of 2020, it posted a growth of 3.2 percent in the second quarter and 4.9 percent in the third quarter and all “main economic indicators showed constant improvement,” Ni said.
As China is focusing on internal demand and technological innovation as drivers of its economy, Bettin said Italian companies “must insert China (into their business plans) as a priority at this time.”
E-COMMERCE AND “NEW RETAIL”
Bettin also said that Italian companies must think about positioning themselves on the e-commerce market since current data shows that “internal consumption in China may remain an economic driver into 2021 as well.”
“China is not only the most important global e-commerce market, with about one billion internet users, but it also represents a reference point with regard to innovation — new technologies and systems to implement the digital aspect in real life,” Bettin said.
“The COVID emergency has increased the weight of the digital aspect in China’s real economy,” he said. “Anyone who wants to approach the Chinese market must do so in the appropriate way, with marketing programs and innovative systems that allow them to communicate by using the tools that Chinese consumers are using currently — digital, social media and e-commerce.”
“E-commerce is a great opportunity for Italian SMEs… (It) can subvert the negative effects linked to the impossibility of Chinese consumers traveling abroad to buy those goods in person,” Bettin said.
Also participating in the webinar was lawyer Carlo Geremia from the Milan-based corporate and commercial law firm NCTM, which has a dedicated China Desk and an office in Shanghai.
Geremia told the participants about the “new retail” concept in China, which he described as being made up of three coexisting aspects: online sales, which are becoming more and more interactive, plus brick and mortar stores, plus the experience expected by the customer in both contexts.
Geremia suggested that Italian companies should focus on cross-border e-commerce, in which products are sent directly to customers in China through platforms, such as Koala or JD Global.
“The e-commerce market in China is worth about 50 billion euros (58.63 billion U.S. dollars) a year,” Geremia said. Enditem