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Success stories mirror shared opportunities at China's import expo

Xinhua | Updated: 2023-11-07 17:02
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A view of the facade of the National Exhibition and Convention Center in Shanghai on Nov 2, 2023. [Photo/Xinhua]

SHANGHAI - Participating in the China International Import Expo (CIIE) for the sixth successive year, doTERRA, a US essential oil company, has witnessed the continued growth of not only its exhibition area but also its ever-deepening ties with the Chinese market.

In November 2018, doTERRA attended the first CIIE without anticipating that this new platform on the other side of the Pacific would reshape its future. With an exhibition area of only 9 square meters, the company garnered a surprising 380 million yuan ($53 million).

Today, China has become the company's second-largest market worldwide.

"We are like standing on the shoulders of giants to sell products," said Owen Messick, president of doTERRA China, while recalling his company's journey at the expo, which entered its sixth edition on Sunday.

To seize the enormous business opportunities brought by the annual expo, doTERRA has launched an essential oil product characterized by Chinese elements at every CIIE since 2019. The company has also established its first overseas R&D center in China.

"After six years of participation, doTERRA has benefited from the unlimited development possibilities brought by the CIIE," Messick said, adding that doTERRA looks forward to the prospect of the Chinese market and expects China to surpass the United States to become the company's largest market by 2030.

Like doTERRA, exhibitors from all around the globe have seen their business growing together with the CIIE. Their success stories evidence how the world's first import-themed national-level expo serves as a public good to bring shared opportunities to the world.

In the previous five editions of the expo, 131 countries and international organizations participated in country exhibitions, with a total intended turnover of nearly $350 billion.

A frequenter of the CIIE, Takeda has also witnessed business expansion since it first participated in the CIIE in 2018 when it was a mid-sized pharmaceutical company. Now, its Chinese subsidiary has developed into one of the best-performing transnational pharmaceutical firms in China.

"We have been deeply impressed by the improvement in China's business environment since the first CIIE," said Shan Guohong, senior vice president of Takeda and president of Takeda China.

Over ten innovative medical products and solutions the company has showcased at the CIIE have been greenlighted for sale in the Chinese market since 2020, thanks to government efforts to speed up approval procedures.

Shan said that at this year's CIIE, he has again felt China's dedication to opening up and high-quality development, stressing that Takeda would continue ramping up investment in the Chinese market.

"I believe that Takeda will continue to grow in China, and China will become our second-largest market globally only next to the United States," Shan noted.

The CIIE also offers growth opportunities for small players. The number of overseas-organized small and medium-sized companies at this year's expo surged nearly 40 percent from last year to reach around 1,500, data from the CIIE Bureau show.

"In the past, it was extremely difficult for small businesses in Afghanistan to find overseas markets for local products," said Ali Faiz from the Biraro Trading Company.

It is the fourth time Faiz has participated in the expo since his first attendance in 2020 when he brought the handmade wool carpet, a specialty product of Afghanistan. The expo helped him obtain over 2,000 orders of carpets, which meant incomes for more than 2,000 local families for an entire year.

The demand for Afghan handmade carpets in China has kept increasing. Now Faiz needs to replenish goods twice a month, compared with only once in six months in the past.

"The CIIE provides us with a valuable window of opportunity so we can integrate into economic globalization and enjoy its benefits like those in more developed regions," he said.

The appeal of the CIIE has grown against headwinds, including a sluggish global economic recovery, anti-globalization waves, and the COVID pandemic. At this year's expo, the total exhibition area for businesses and the number of participating industry leaders hit a record high.

The CIIE is not China's solo show but a chorus involving all countries, Chinese President Xi Jinping once said.

The CIIE is widely welcomed globally not just because of the massive potential of the Chinese market but also for the reason that people from all corners of the world benefit more from economic globalization through this platform, said Zhang Yong, deputy head of Shanghai Advanced Institute of Finance affiliated with Shanghai Jiaotong University.

"Plenty of success stories at the expo have proved that more inclusive and balanced globalization can be realized," said Julie Dong, head of the Syria National Pavilion at the Greenland Global Commodity Trading Hub.

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