A volunteer for the upcoming China International Import Expo (CIIE) poses for a photo with the mascot "Jinbao" outside the National Exhibition and Convention Center in Shanghai, Oct 26, 2018. (PHOTO / XINHUA)
The China International Import Expo, with exhibitors from around the world bringing their best products to Shanghai, is set to bring about upgrades in the city's shopping services and further integration of the Yangtze River Delta region, experts said.
"The expo will link Chinese business purchasers with a variety of goods from all over the world and make it possible for residents to buy the best products on their doorstep," said Zhang Min, executive head of Shanghai University's Shanghai Exhibition Research Institute.
As the world's first national import expo, CIIE is a landmark undertaking in the history of international trade. It has attracted thousands of exporters from around the world and about 160,000 Chinese buyers.
Shanghai has tapped into the opportunity to "improve the business environment, and emphasizes consolidating and enhancing our status as an international trade center," said Shang Yuying, director of the Shanghai Commerce Commission
It will provide local businesses with a competitive edge when targeting the more than 200 million affluent consumers in the delta region, who tend to demand world-class products and services, Zhang said.
Although the delta region accounts for just 3.8 percent of China's total land area, its GDP amounted to 19.5 trillion yuan (US$3.08 trillion) last year, roughly 25 percent of the national total, official statistics show.
Shang Yuying, director of the Shanghai Commerce Commission, said the city has tapped into the opportunity to "improve the business environment, and emphasizes consolidating and enhancing our status as an international trade center".
"We aim to build Shanghai into a world-class shopping hub that offers the world's most updated, trendiest and most value-for-money selections," Shang said at a ceremony on June 15 that marked the beginning of the city's drive to become a choice destination for global product launches.
Shanghai has rolled out a series of measures this year to ensure the expo is a success and develop the city into a distribution hub for imported goods across China and Asia. One measure made it easier for imported goods and services to enter the city, and another was the establishment of year-round exhibition and transaction platforms to support the expo.
The commission said the platforms were established because the authorities recognized that the six-day expo would not provide international exhibitors and buyers with enough time to learn about all the business opportunities in China.
"The platforms will also promote the sustainable development of the expo and enhance Shanghai's brand as an international shopping destination," Shang said.
The Yangtze River Delta E-commerce Center, in the Hongqiao business district, is an example. Located near the National Exhibition and Convention Center, where CIIE is being held, the center is designed to serve as a year-round offline display platform for cross-border e-commerce operators from around the world, according to Huang Zhimin, general manager of Shanghai Kouxing Enterprise Management, the company responsible for the center's operation.
"It can be very costly for cross-border e-commerce operators to transport products to China once a year just for a six-day expo," Huang said. "We aim to offer them a transit platform where they can display their products between expos. This will not only help them achieve significant cost savings but also offers them year-round access to the local market."
Huang said more than 100 e-commerce operators have expressed interest in registering for a space at the center. Some, including vip.com, have opened offline stores.
Customers can select from imported products－mainly cosmetics, food and health products－at such stores and complete online customs clearance through a mobile app. The e-commerce center provides an area of nearly 143,000 square meters that the enterprises can use as a bonded warehouse.
Thanks to the growing integration of transport, services and economies in the delta region, the expo's effect is not limited to Shanghai but will also spread to cities in the neighboring provinces of Zhejiang and Jiangsu, boosting collaboration between cities in the region, experts said.
Zhao Huiqin, the Party secretary of Shanghai's Qingpu district, said several collaborative projects have been implemented, including a plan to extend the Shanghai Metro to Jiashan in Zhejiang and Kunshan and Suzhou in Jiangsu province, and a plan to build a 5G network in the delta region.
Scientific researchers in the delta region also said they were looking forward to the expo as it will allow them to view the world's top technology in their fields.
"Such a transparent exhibition platform will provide abundant opportunities for communication between the technology suppliers and purchasers to learn each other's needs," said Huang Zhengren, director of Ningbo Institute of Industrial Technology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
"Greater knowledge of such needs will help to apply more research results from the country in the market, even in the global market," he said.
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