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Foreign languages, AI open new markets for Yiwu businesswomen

By Yang Yang | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2024-06-19 14:36
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Fu Jiangyan (second from left in front row) learns Spanish on June 6, 2024. [Photo/Xinhua]

Businesswomen have started to learn foreign languages and artificial intelligence technology to boost their businesses at the Yiwu International Trade Market in Yiwu, East China's Zhejiang province, Xinhua News Agency reported on Friday.

Data show that the average daily visit of foreigners at the market has reached about 3,500 this year.

"Foreign buyers are more interested in sellers who can speak their native language because it is easier to make a deal. Speaking the same language helps to build trust and connection, which can turn into friendship," said Fu Jiangyan, a 42-year-old businesswoman in the first row of an English-language corner in Yiwu.

Fu and her husband sell around 20 million pairs of socks to the overseas market each year, mainly to the Middle East and South Africa. When their business began to expand, Fu started to learn Spanish.

Fu's shop is one of the 75,000 outlets at the Yiwu International Trade Market, which supplies nearly 2.1 million varieties of goods to the world, including about two-thirds of the world's Christmas decorations.

In the first four months of this year, Yiwu's import and export value exceeded 201 billion yuan ($27.71 billion), up 22 percent year-on-year. Africa, Latin America and the ASEAN countries are Yiwu's major trading partners, and Yiwu's foreign trade with India and Saudi Arabia is also growing rapidly.

"In the past, we used to rely on translators, calculators and even gestures to do business with foreigners," said Fu Miaoling, the owner of a bamboo products business in Yiwu.

"Though learning and speaking foreign languages can help us retain and expand customers, it is impossible to be proficient in every language since our products are sold in more than 100 countries and regions," Fu Miaoling said.

Currently, cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence are opening up even more possibilities for business people such as Fu Miaoling.

Thanks to an AI intelligent innovation service platform launched last year, a recorded Chinese video can be automatically converted into 36 languages, and the output can be adjusted to the shape of the mouth based on the pronunciation.

At present, more than 10,000 merchants in Yiwu are using AI to conduct business. Fu Jiangyan and seven other English-speaking Yiwu proprietors even promoted their products to global audiences via a big screen in the Times Square in New York last month.

Fu Jiangyan also mastered skills such as short-video editing and sold out a type of socks with the help of an English-language video within seconds.

One Albanian customer, who had not been in touch with Fu Jiangyan for a long time, saw the video and immediately ordered 12,000 pairs of Christmas socks.

With the aid of foreign languages and new technologies, businesswomen in Yiwu can use various digital tools to contact customers, offer prices, receive orders and do business with global customers.

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