Small countries score big success at import expo

SHANGHAI, Nov. 9 (Xinhua) — Though covering only nine square meters, the booth of Timor Media Solution is one of the busiest at the ongoing third China International Import Expo (CIIE).

From the very first day of the expo, visitors kept lining up in front of the booth for a taste of the civet coffee from Timor Leste, which is made and served by an on-site barista.

Jacky Li, who is in charge of the booth, said the enthusiasm is beyond his expectation. “Because of the novel coronavirus outbreak, we did not expect to see many people here,” he said. “China has done well in containing the virus.”

This is the second year for the civet coffee from the Asian island country to be exhibited at the CIIE. As one of the finest coffee varieties in the world, Timor Leste’s coffee was already quite sought-after at last year’s expo.

Purely organic and tasty, Timor-Leste’s civet coffee is of high quality, but for a small country with a population of around 1.3 million, its annual output is only several hundred kilos.

Shortly after the second CIIE, a Timor-Leste National Pavilion was established in the Shanghai Pilot Free Trade Zone last year. Besides, a coffee industrial center was unveiled nine months later to commercialize the product further.

“The CIIE is a world-renowned platform, which allows not only China but the entire world to know more about Timor-Leste, thereby encouraging economic and trade exchanges, as well as attracting more investment for our country,” said Li, also the curator of the national pavilion.

He added that the organizer of the CIIE has provided great support for small countries like Timor-Leste. “For instance, though we only offer limited product types, they helped a lot with promotion.”

Bolivian exporters, who brought quinoa, beef and alpaca products all the way from the small South American nation thousands of kilometers away, have also found the expo very fruitful.

Sandra Mabel Mariscal, business secretary to the chairman of the Bolivia Trade and Investment Department, said the department hopes to seek cooperation with large Chinese enterprises, local stores and supermarkets on agricultural commodities.

“To our delight, the Bolivian booth has attracted quite some visitors and potential buyers,” she told Xinhua, adding that the department has already locked in a cooperation plan of 10 million U.S. dollars covering the next five years.

China is Bolivia’s second-largest trading partner. In 2019, Bolivian exports to China stood at 402 million U.S. dollars, official data show.

Greechain, a Kenya-based exporter, has come to the CIIE for three consecutive years, and its booth has expanded from only nine square meters in 2018 to this year’s 40 square meters, along with the company’s booming business with China.

Rossella Lyu, chairwoman of Greechain, said coffee, nuts and other local products from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and South Africa have been very popular among Chinese consumers.

“We’ve just signed an annual purchase contract worth 10 million U.S. dollars for dry fruits, nuts and avocado products at the CIIE,” she told Xinhua.

Boosted by business opportunities in the Chinese market, Greechain has opened branches in Tanzania and Uganda and generated around 2,000 jobs in developing countries participating in the Belt and Road Initiative, according to Lyu.

Despite restrictions due to virus containment measures, this year’s CIIE has attracted 2,600-odd global exhibitors and is expected to welcome 400,000 visitors, making it one of the world’s largest events in 2020.

Among them, more than 500 enterprises from 47 Belt and Road countries and regions have participated in this year’s CIIE. The expo has also hosted exhibitors from 30 least developed countries with an exhibition area of more than 4,000 square meters, according to the expo organizer.

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