Economic Watch: Two cities exemplify vibrancy of Chinese wholesale markets

BEIJING  -  Business activities of wholesales mar­kets, a bellwether of economic trends, have returned the bustling levels across China, heralding the country’s broader economic recovery.

Well-known as the world’s manu­facturing hub, China is home to a wide range of wholesale markets. Among them, two cities, with their own distinc­tive features and strengths, stand out from the fierce competition and occupy unique positions in the world’s whole­sale trade landscape. Yiwu, even though just a county level city in east China’s Zhejiang province, and which was ini­tially built on a barter system, has now positioned itself as a “world’s supermar­ket” after decades of expansion. Cur­rently, this city offers nearly 2.1 million varieties of goods that are shipped to nearly every corner of the globe, while hosting over 15,000 merchants from more than 100 countries and regions.

About 800-km away, Linyi, a less con­spicuous inland city located in east Chi­na’s Shandong province, now features as a notable up-and-comer in the whole­sales industry. Hosting almost all cat­egories of the means of production, this city has built the country’s largest pro­fessional wholesale market cluster. Last year, a freight train route linking Yiwu and Linyi was put into operation, and it is set to foster a closer bond between these cities and help more made-in-Chi­na goods to reach the rest of the world.

CONSOLIDATING LEADING POSITION

In the face of ailing world demand, traders in China’s wholesales markets took the initiative to seek changes and managed to retain their leading posi­tion in global business.

Even in the chill of winter, Yiwu In­ternational Trade Market remained busy, thronged with merchants from home and abroad exploring a treasure trove of business opportunities there.

“Sometimes I need to receive 10 groups of clients a day,” said an um­brella vendor named Zhang Jiying, describing herself to be “as busy as a beaver”. Zhang said her company’s sales recorded 30-percent year-on-year growth in 2023, while orders for this year are also proving significant.

The hustle and bustle in Zhang’s company epitomises the strong come­back made by Yiwu. During the past year, more than 200,000 people vis­ited the trade market per day on aver­age, returning to the 2019 level. In the first 11 months of last year, the trading volume of the market exceeded 200 billion yuan (about 28.15 billion US dollars), up 13 percent year on year.

Similarly, sales in the Linyi whole­sales market also saw hefty growth last year, as merchants actively em­braced the era of e-commerce and live-streaming. “Live-streaming e-commerce significantly expanded the sales radius of the Linyi trade market, thereby prompting upgrades in pro­duction, sales, logistics and other links of the supply chains,” said Jia Hang­zhou, manager of an e-commerce base in Linyi. So far, 106 e-commerce supply chain enterprises have settled in the e-commerce base, with daily average transactions topping 5 million yuan, Jia noted. Total trading volume of Linyi Trade City exceeded 610 billion yuan in 2023, and online retail sales sky­rocketed 35 percent year on year to reach approximately 61 billion yuan.

BOOSTING BACKWARD LINKAGES

Burgeoning trade in small commodi­ties not only boosted the manufactur­ing of these goods, but also drove local industries toward improved technology and greater value-added levels. Zheji­ang Jieerke Solar Technology Co Ltd is a prime example in this regard. The Yiwu-based manufacturer of solar modules of­fers over 100 types of new energy prod­ucts such as photovoltaic panels, solar refrigerators, and lithium batteries.

Lin Jianxiong, a member of the com­pany, said Yiwu provides an obvious ad­vantage in terms of price-quality ratio, as the company can both manufacture and sell new energy products there. Lin added that last year the company’s sales had increased by about 20 percent year on year, while the company footprint had expanded from Africa to the Middle East, Central Asia and South America.

As the result of efforts to cultivate emerging industries, Yiwu has managed to develop two thriving manufacturing clusters of the information optoelec­tronics and automobile manufacturing industries, respectively, with the output of each reaching 100 billion yuan.

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