GUANGZHOU - Despite offline campaigns being suspended due to the latest COVID-19 resurgence, the time-honored China Import and Export Fair concluded its 131st biannual session on Sunday in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou with many new records.

The 10-day-long event, also known as the Canton Fair, attracted a record-high of over 25,000 domestic and overseas exhibitors with over 2.9 million exhibits displayed online. Over 30 percent of the exhibits made their debut while over 480,000 exhibits featured green and low carbon.

Among those domestic exhibitors in this session of the Canton Fair, 18,400 enterprises were engaged in exports in the first quarter of the year, with a total export value of over 440 billion yuan (about 67.7 billion US dollars), up 6.8 percent year on year, according to the latest statistics from the Guangzhou Customs.

The online Canton Fair for the fifth time with substantial transactions demonstrates China’s unswerving resolve to stabilise the global industrial chain and supply chain as it further embraces the digital economy amid the protracted COVID-19 pandemic.

DIGITAL ECONOMY THRIVES

Thanks to the enhanced digitisation level, numerous online browsing and negotiations were able to be carried out smoothly at the Canton Fair.

An intentional order worth 300,000 US dollars for bathroom products was reached between Bangladeshi buyer Idirs and the Chinese company ORANS Co, Ltd, which is based in Zhejiang province and mainly manufactures and sells intelligent sanitary ware, shortly after Idirs watched the company’s live-streaming and had a one-to-one video communication with its engineer.

The stable platform with various functions helps facilitate the interactions between suppliers and purchasers while special labels for different companies and products help enterprises to find what they need more effectively, said Liu Shi, a project director of the Canton Fair’s technical support supplier Tencent.

Exhibitors have embraced digital transformation actively. Various techniques were applied skillfully to facilitate the online trade, such as live-streaming promotions, cloud factory exploration, online negotiation, and immersive experience.

“After trials in previous sessions, we found that the cost of online exhibitions is relatively lower, and technologies including 3D and virtual reality can help better display our products,” said Lin Hu, general manager of Guangzhou Light Industry & Trade Group Ltd, which held over 200 live-streaming promotion activities on this session of the fair.

Online exhibition conforms to the development trend of the digital economy and is a practical choice under the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Wang Shouwen, China’s vice minister of commerce, noting that a “digital Canton Fair” will be built with high standards and quality in the future.

SUPPLY CHAIN ENHANCED

Facing the COVID-19 resurgence in Guangzhou recently, the Pazhou exhibition centre, the main venue of the Canton Fair, has been temporarily transformed into a makeshift hospital in case of emergency while the construction of a new exhibition area for the autumn session of the Canton Fair this year is in full swing.

Regardless of the challenges, China has been making all-out efforts to balance economic growth and epidemic control. While strictly implementing epidemic prevention measures, governments at all levels are working to ensure the steady flow of industrial and supply chains and the steady progress of major projects.

China remains an indispensable part of the global industrial chains and supply chains. The total import and export volume of China’s foreign trade in the first quarter registered 9.42 trillion yuan, up 10.7 percent year on year, according to official data.

To counter the adverse factors brought about by COVID-19, household appliance manufacturer Ningbo Sinolink Appliance Co, Ltd, a regular exhibitor at the Canton Fair, has vigorously built an exclusive cross-border platform with the help of local government departments. Its coffee makers and juice extractors have gradually gained popularity in the global market.

By the end of the first quarter, the company’s export sales increased by 18 percent year on year. Its production orders have already been scheduled for July, mostly from the American and European markets, said Chen Dehuan, a manager of the company’s development department.

As a manufacturing heartland and leading foreign trade player in China, Guangdong province has given full play to the main role of leading enterprises in the supply chain. In Shanghai, major companies have resumed work and production in an orderly manner amid the COVID-19 resurgence. SAIC Motor started the pressure test last Monday and US carmaker Tesla’s Shanghai factory officially resumed production on Tuesday.

DEVELOPMENT DIVIDEND SHARED

China’s foreign direct investment (FDI), in actual use, reached 379.87 billion yuan in the first quarter of this year, up 25.6 percent year on year. Many multinational enterprises are setting up new projects or new production lines in China, regardless of the epidemic outbreaks and intricate international situation.

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) that took effect some 100 days ago has spurred growing import and export among trading partners. Many enterprises are seizing the opportunity to further expand the market.

“With upgraded technology, and the tariff reduction, more orders and cost reductions brought by the RCEP, we are more confident in completing the sales target of 800 million yuan in 2022,” said Zhong Minghui, a manager of Tachi-S Guangzhou, a Japanese-funded company.

With an innovation R&D centre put into trial operation in Tianjin and a sustainable aviation fuel production base built in Maoming City in Guangdong, tech enterprise Honeywell, also a regular exhibitor at Canton Fair, is optimistic about its investment in China. “China is Honeywell’s second-largest market globally and its biggest growth market,” said Yu Feng, president of Honeywell China. “Honeywell is optimistic about China’s economic fundamentals and prospects in the digital economy and low-carbon fields, and is excited by its continued high-level opening-up. We will increase our investment in China.”

According to the 2022 Special Report on the State of Business in South China, released by the American Chamber of Commerce in South China (AmCham South China) on March 1, an overwhelming majority of the assessed companies choose China as one of the preferred investment destinations. More than 70 percent of the assessed companies have reinvestment plans in China for 2022.

Foreign enterprises have faith in the comprehensive competitive advantages of China over market size, industrial support and business environment, according to the report.

Besides the Canton Fair, China has also initiated multiple international fairs and expos to share its dividend of reform and development with the rest of the world. The new business forms and services will bring new economic growth potential and turbocharge the global economic recovery.