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Zhejiang eyes big presence overseas

By WANG KEJU| China Daily| Updated:  January 9, 2024 L M S


A freight train arrives at Wenzhou Port, Zhejiang province. Its cargo will be shipped to Southeast Asian countries under a sea-rail combined transportation mode. HU XIAOFEI/FOR CHINA DAILY

For strong show in 2024, province wants firms to shine at biz events

East China's Zhejiang province, a major export-oriented economic powerhouse, has embarked on a series of actions aimed at expanding its presence in markets untapped so far, retaining more business orders as the new year unfolds and getting its economy off to a strong start this year.

With a clear focus on expanding presence beyond the Chinese mainland, a government-led outbound business delegation, consisting of representatives of 24 enterprises from Zhejiang's Wenzhou city, has set sail to explore new opportunities and strengthen existing partnerships during the Hong Kong Toys and Games Fair, the largest of its kind in Asia, which began on Monday.

With meticulous planning and a keen eye on market trends, Hi Childhood Amusement Equipment Co, a Wenzhou-based outdoor playground supplier, has selected a range of innovative and engaging products that it hopes will help connect with potential buyers at the fair.

In response to the specific needs and preferences of different markets such as Europe, North America and Southeast Asia, the company made targeted offerings of products in its attractive catalog, said the company director Xue Yiming.

The company aims to strengthen relationships with established clients from Europe and the United States while exploring new prospects and expanding its customer base. It also plans to gather valuable insights into market trends and consumer preferences, Xue said, expressing confidence in securing orders worth $1-2 million.

Despite the challenges posed by global uncertainties, government support for participating in such exhibitions has proved to be crucial for foreign trade enterprises seeking to expand their reach and showcase their offerings to a global audience.

The lack of in-person interactions with clients over the past few years has prompted Zhejiang Vsuch Industry Co to seize the opportunity for group participation in overseas trade shows such as the Hong Kong fair. It hopes to uncover new customers and generate new business orders.

In the past few years, due to disruptions induced by the COVID-19 pandemic, customer acquisition methods mainly relied on e-commerce channels. However, such platforms have limitations, and the opportunities to connect with new customers were relatively restricted, said Wu Ankang, manager of the company's foreign trade department.

"By participating in trade shows, we can engage in face-to-face interactions and gain access to a wider range of potential customers. It has been a few years since we last attended a trade show, and this offline (on-site) experience will help us understand their needs better, and tailor our offerings accordingly," Wu said.

Participation in the Hong Kong fair is expected to set the stage for a series of overseas initiatives put forward by local authorities in Zhejiang to start the new year on a strong note.

Looking ahead, Zhejiang has set an ambitious target of organizing over 1,000 such delegations and facilitating the participation of over 10,000 companies in trade shows around the world, to empower companies to gain exposure to emerging markets, according to the provincial commerce bureau.

The value of Zhejiang's imports and exports reached 4.5 trillion yuan ($628 billion) in the first 11 months of last year, up 4.4 percent year-on-year, data from local Customs authorities showed.

Exports from Zhejiang jumped 3.5 percent year-on-year to 3.28 trillion yuan, accounting for more than 15 percent of the country's total, which secured its position as the second-largest exporter nationwide, according to official data.

Noting that Zhejiang and other provincial regions with sizable foreign trade serve as pillars of China's trade growth, Zhuang Rui, a professor at the Beijing-based University of International Business and Economics, said that stronger government support should be extended to help them navigate the growing complexities in the global economic landscape.

In addition to helping or encouraging foreign trade firms to take part in overseas trade shows, tax breaks, export rebates, facilitation in Customs clearance and other preferential policies should be rolled out to help slash their costs and better anchor their expectations, Zhuang said.