Cross-border trade the focus as East China Fair kicks off in Shanghai

Huang Yixuan
The 31st East China Fair (ECF) kicked off on Wednesday at the Shanghai New International Expo Center, with cross-border trade as one of the highlights this year.
Huang Yixuan

The 31st East China Fair (ECF) kicked off on Wednesday at the Shanghai New International Expo Center, with cross-border trade as one of the highlights this year.

With a total exhibition area of 105,200 square meters, the fair features 5,234 booths for 3,299 participating companies, including 234 overseas exhibitors from 11 countries and regions. The event is expected to attract 33,000 buyers from both home and abroad.

This year's fair, with the theme "Embark on a new chapter of renewal, and open up new prospects for foreign trade," is part of the government's efforts to stabilize the foreign trade sector amid the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and an increasingly complex global trade environment.

It will run for four days and features four professional themed exhibitions, namely clothing and apparel, textile fabrics, household items, and decoration and gifts, as well as two professional exhibition areas for overseas exhibitors and cross-border e-commerce, respectively.

The fair provides a platform for foreign trade companies to showcase their latest products and services, explore new business opportunities, and promote international trade cooperation.

At the opening ceremony of the fair, officials from various national authorities shared their insights on the current status and future prospects of China's foreign trade.

According to Xiao Lu, deputy director-general of the Department of Foreign Trade of the Ministry of Commerce, China's foreign trade has overcome difficulties and challenges in recent years, with the import and export volume reaching 42 trillion yuan (US$5.84 trillion) in 2022, ranking first in the world for six consecutive years. From January to May 2023, China's import and export value added up to 16.77 trillion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 4.7 percent, showing strong resilience.

However, the slowdown in foreign demand and the reduction of enterprise orders remain the main challenges for foreign trade companies, she pointed out.

The State Council, China's cabinet, recently issued a document on promoting stable scale and optimizing structure of foreign trade. The commerce ministry will continue to support foreign trade companies to participate in various overseas exhibitions and will also facilitate the application of business visas for foreign trade personnel, Xiao said.

Cross-border trade the focus as East China Fair kicks off in Shanghai

Xiao Lu, deputy director-general of the Department of Foreign Trade of the Ministry of Commerce, spoke at the opening ceremony of the ECF on Wednesday.

Zhou Hanmin, a Standing Committee member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, shared his view on digital transformation and outbound trade development during his keynote speech.

China's cross-border e-commerce imports and exports exceeded 2 trillion yuan for the first time in 2022, reaching 2.1 trillion yuan with a surge of nearly 10 times in five years, he noted. Cross-border e-commerce not only injects new momentum into China's foreign trade development but also drives the transformation and upgrading of traditional industries and small and medium-sized enterprises.

Zhou suggested that it is necessary to help foreign trade SMEs to become part of the digital transformation, carry out foreign trade partner plans, and empower them in system construction and talent cultivation.

It is also necessary to actively integrate into the global digital trade governance system, participate in the formulation of cross-border digital trade industry standards, and related systems such as privacy protection, cross-border data flow, and intellectual property protection, he added.

Cross-border trade the focus as East China Fair kicks off in Shanghai

Zhou Hanmin, a Standing Committee member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, gave the keynote speech at the ECF opening ceremony.

Against the backdrop of China's reform and opening-up, for the past 30 years, the ECF has strongly supported innovation and the introduction of new forms of foreign trade, and has devoted itself to serving the integrated development of the Yangtze River Delta region and the overall development of China's foreign trade.

It has become one of the largest regional international economic and trade events in China, with the most buyers, the widest coverage, and the highest transaction volume.

Zhang Xiong, deputy secretary-general of the Shanghai government, stated that the current international trade pattern has undergone major changes. The fair will continue to play a role as a booster of East China's foreign trade, fully supporting foreign trade enterprises in opening up international markets through the ECF platform, helping exhibitors from home and abroad to connect with buyers, and trying to contribute to the high-quality development of foreign trade, he pledged.

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