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Belt & Road drives new overseas consumer market | Updated: 2018-04-21 21:26

Driven by the Belt and Road Initiative, Chinese companies in the smartphone, automobile, e-commerce and fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) fields see prospects for becoming internationally-recognized brands in the future, experts from Nielsen Co said.

A number of factors, such as a young population, fast-growing economy, positive attitudes to spending, busy lifestyles, and digitalization are shaping the new consumer market in the overseas market and providing new momentum, according to Andy Zhao, president of Nielsen China.

In the past few years, China's smartphone production has covered a fourth of the world's total production volume, occupying a third of the world's market. And China's exports of automobile products related to the Belt and Road Initiative have reached $30 billion, with a 9 percent year-on-year increase, industry statistics showed.

"Chinese companies have achieved remarkable success in the automobile and smartphone markets in Egypt," said Tamer EI Araby, managing director of Nielsen Egypt.

With high social media penetration, e-commerce also is becoming a strong opportunity in the overseas market. So far WeChat Payment has entered 25 countries, Alipay 70 countries, and JD 54 countries.

"In the current economic context there are two new consumer market trends," said Tamer El Araby, managing director of Nielsen Egypt. "One is that discount stores are becoming the most popular shopping channel, and the other is that online shopping continues to surge.

Since the implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative, Chinese companies have seen increasing opportunities to enter the global stage.

"As a new driver of globalization, the Belt and Road Initiative is helping companies stretch their international horizons and grow," said Andy Zhao, president of Nielsen China.

According to data from China's Ministry of Commerce, between 2013 and 2017 the country's trade in goods with economies participating in the Belt and Road Initiative exceeded $5 trillion and outbound direct investment reached over $70 billion.

During that period, Chinese companies set up 75 economic and trade cooperation zones in countries and regions involved with the initiative and created 210,000 job opportunities, the data showed.

However, beneath the achievements lie the challenges. China's successful international brand is still a minority, and most are product brands.

"For Chinese enterprises to go global, they should not only focus on product quality, but also on after-sale services," said Zhang Jianping, director of the Regional Economic Research Center of the Ministry of Commerce.

On the other hand, huge differences in political, economic, cultural and legal systems of the various economies need to be taken into account.

"While companies 'go global' they also need to 'go local' so they can perform well overseas by solidifying their operations and becoming fully integrated there," said Zhao.

"Besides, they need to 'go up'," he said, which means pushing on with innovation, strengthening the influence of their brands and leading the way as 'Made in China' becomes 'Created in China'.

"Over the past few years Nielsen has helped Chinese companies become more important players on the world stage," Zhao said, citing 3C (computer, communication and consumer electronics) products and motor vehicles as an example.

By providing Chinese companies with commercial and cultural consults, Nielsen has helped many Chinese enterprises to participate in the Belt and Road Initiative.

Fan Hang contributed to this story

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