Business flight offers new opportunities
Crew members on the chartered business flight from Ningbo, Zhejiang province, are photographed before departure to Budapest, Hungary. Photo provided to CHINA DAILY
Chartered 12-day trip to Europe aims to attract clients and orders
Ding Yandong, general manager of a company in Ningbo, Zhejiang province, is making a groundbreaking business trip to Europe this month.
To showcase his company's products, he has included samples weighing a total of 30 kilograms in his luggage.
"I am extremely excited about this trip," said Ding, general manager of Ningbo Rollmax Shutter Component Co.
Having lost face-to-face contact with overseas customers for the past three years, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ding faced the possibility of losing one of his biggest clients.
His Polish client was bought by a company that he had never been in contact with. Due to difficulties in online communication, this company intended to replace Rollmax with a new supplier.
"My customer used to place a $1 million order every year. This year's order has been delayed, and it was hard for me to meet the new company face-to-face, which made me really anxious," Ding said.
The pandemic has hampered the development of foreign-trade companies, which have found it difficult to take part in negotiations and offline exhibitions abroad.
Ningbo Rollmax Shutter Component Co is one of more than 24,000 small and medium-sized foreign-trade companies in Ningbo.
On July 10, Ding was among the 36 passengers－all from foreign-trade companies in Ningbo－who left for Budapest, the Hungarian capital, on a chartered flight for a 12-day European business tour.
It was first round-trip business flight from China since the pandemic emerged.
At Ningbo Lishe International Airport, Chen Zhicheng, deputy director of the Zhejiang Provincial Department of Commerce, told those leaving for Budapest, "We hope you seize this opportunity to attract more clients and harvest more orders."
The Ningbo Municipal Bureau of Commerce conducted a survey of 1,982 local companies whose annual import and export values exceed $10 million. The survey found that to date this year, 40 percent of the companies had received fewer purchase orders from foreign customers than they did during the same period last year.
To help foreign-trade companies venture abroad and address such problems, the authorities in Ningbo set up a special team on June 13 comprising officials from departments such as commerce, public security, finance, transportation, health, foreign affairs, culture and tourism.
The chartered flight to Budapest was the result of 27 days of hard work by the team. Ding said, adding, "For me, this flight is as important as the $1 million order."
Free Wi-Fi services were offered during the flight, which was operated by China Eastern Airlines.
After arriving in Budapest, Ding traveled to Warsaw, capital of Poland, to meet his new Polish client.
On July 12, Ding reached a $1 million agreement after negotiations that lasted three hours, during which he and the client discussed details of the deal.
"In addition to all the samples I packed, I also brought a solution to our problems that the client had requested, but which we had been unable to come up with before," Ding said.
Ding suggested the solution to technicians before making the trip to Europe, after reviewing all the client's requirements and sticking points.
"Obviously, the solution worked. The client clearly recognizes our sincerity and our strengths," he said.