Diplomats in Shanghai discuss their preparation for third CIIE to take place amid epidemic

By GT staff reporters Source: Global Times Published: 2020/11/4 20:23:40

Editor's Note:

The third China International Import Expo (CIIE) will be held in Shanghai from November 5 to 10 as scheduled despite the impact of COVID-19 outbreak. The Global Times interviewed 12 foreign diplomats in Shanghai about their preparation and expectations of the upcoming CIIE.

Chris Wood, Consul General of Britain in Shanghai Photo: GT

Chris Wood, 

Consul General of Britain in Shanghai

This year, we are having a particular focus on British food and drink. This is a massively growing sector for the UK's exports to China. The exports have gone up nearly 170 percent in this sector in the last five years; 26 percent just last year 2019 to a value of £780 million ($1,011.7 million) and we see continued prospect of growth in the sector. 

But we are not just looking at food and drink. Through our various platforms for the CIIE, we will give an opportunity for connecting with British companies across a whole range of sectors, such as technology, advanced manufacturing, education and so on. All of them are important to the British economy and to our hugely important trade and relationship with China. 

Every challenge also provides an opportunity. We have seized that opportunity to be very creative in our approach to the CIIE this year. This is an opportunity for the UK and China to build on our strength. China is the UK's third largest trading partner. We see ourselves as important partners in many areas in tackling many of the global challenges including the great public health challenge of COVID but also other health issues and also the major global challenges such as climate change. So the CIIE gives us a platform to underline and reemphasize those messages.

Ramazan Parvaz, Consul General of Iran in Shanghai Photo: GT

Ramazan Parvaz,

Consul General of Iran in Shanghai

Since 2018, Iran has caught the opportunity to participate in all three CIIEs. We actively participated in 2019 at three levels: the national pavilion level, with our minister of commerce and industry leading a big delegation; the private enterprises level with 15 Iranian companies and the culture and tourism level. 

Actually, we prepared the participation in this year more than the last year, as we had reserved about 500 square meters for our companies to participate. Because of COVID-19 we couldn't go ahead as we wanted. But we still managed to have 28 Iranian companies to participate in the third CIIE this year (last year we just had 15 in total). 15 companies are in intelligent industries like information technology, in this part the main product is Nano fiber technology. 13 companies in other sections will exhibit products such as Persian carpet, pictorial carpet, herbal medicine, handicrafts, foods.

The CIIE has brought a new concept of the cooperation between the global economy and the regional economy, between the rich countries and the poor countries, between economies of the medium size and big size and small size.

It shows the maturity and growth of the economy of China which could attract and integrate other economies and open its arms to all of the goods from the foreign countries to its country.

The CIIE is the hub for all of the countries to present themselves, not only exchange of commodities and goods but also of the cultural values.

Yok Yee Chan, Consul General of Fiji in Shanghai Photo: GT

Yok Yee Chan, 

Consul General of Fiji in Shanghai

Fiji has been actively participating in the past CIIEs and this year we have been looking forward to the 3rd CIIE. Due to the challenges of COVID-19, the preparation has to be different, especially in view of China's prevention and control measures. For instance, the opening ceremony, as well as the Hongqiao Forum, will be conducted virtually, so our leaders from Fiji, as well as our business entrepreneurs, rather than coming and attending the CIIE physically in person, [can participate] virtually.

Our well-known products in China like Fiji Water, cosmetic products of Pure Fiji, Noni juice and Fiji beer will be exhibited at the event. Tourism is also being promoted at the various booths within the trade pavilion.

CIIE is to deliver the global exposure and also send out the message to the world that China is still a market to be reckoned with. As we know from the recent golden week, things in China have basically come back to normal, so the consumption power is there.

Hopefully when we are over with this pandemic and when the world fully recovers and everything returns to normal, the business will also return to normal and perhaps even go up another level, because I think the world needs China's leadership in terms of international business and trade and investment.

Manorie Mallikaratchy, Consul General of Sri Lanka in Shanghai Photo: Courtesy of Consulate General of Sri Lanka in Shanghai

Manorie Mallikaratchy, 

Consul General of Sri Lanka in Shanghai

We would like to commend the Chinese government for successfully containing the COVID-19 and also for continuing to take effective and important measures in epidemic prevention and control to ensure that everyone living in China, including the citizens and others, is well protected. In that light, we also would like to commend that without cancelling the CIIE, China has taken step to hold the Expo this year too. 

As per the 3rd CIIE this time, all Sri Lankan products, which are mainly tea, rubber-related products will be represented through agents in China.

Just like last year, we are expecting to finalize more trade between China and Sri Lanka. We expect that the 3rd CIIE will help us to identify innovative ways to attract buyers of Sri Lankan products from China. 

The biggest story from Sri Lanka during the preparation for the 3rd CIIE from the traders' perspective is that they miss China. They miss being here in China during a nationally important event. They are being appreciative for the courage and vigilance for arranging this expo this year too amid a pandemic.

H.E. Rashed Alqemzi, Consul General of the UAE in Shanghai Photo: GT

H.E. Rashed Alqemzi,  

Consul General of the UAE in Shanghai

Our UAE companies have put on a great effort to present themselves during this CIIE. One of our UAE chambers will be helping their members who can't attend by setting up a booth for them and building B2B connection during the exhibition.

I believe countries and companies will develop strategy and methods to promote their products digitally this year.

China is one of UAE's leading trade partners. Big UAE companies will sign MOU with their counterpart Chinese companies. We hope this CIIE will strengthen and enhance Sino-UAE friendship and strong ties. We commend China for what it has done to prepare for the upcoming expo. 

Shanghai is a very active city and I'm very happy I participated in most of the activities held in the city. This is my third time to participate in the CIIE. We are looking forward to the fourth one.

Olivier Zehnder, Consul General of Switzerland in Shanghai Photo: GT

Olivier Zehnder, 

Consul General of Switzerland in Shanghai

Switzerland is an exporting country, and China is our third largest trading partner whose importance is growing every year. We are really looking forward to participating in the third CIIE to showcase the areas where we're strong at: innovation, long-term commitment and sustainability.

The upcoming CIIE will have presence of the Fortune 500 companies like ABB, Roche Diagnostics, Novartis and Nestlé. Some smaller companies who excel in their sectors will also attend. I would highly recommend visitors to visit these companies. 

This year's CIIE is really important to showcase and to underline the contribution that foreign companies have done in the fight against the global COVID-19 pandemic, and what they have done in generating employment and contributing to growth.

2020 marks the 70th anniversary of bilateral relations between Switzerland and China. Switzerland was one of the first Western countries to recognize the People's Republic of China, and we've had always relations being marked by a pioneer spirit. This year's CIIE will be a good opportunity for us to showcase the excellence of our relationship.

Lorena Larios Rodriguez, Consul General of Mexico in Shanghai Photo: Courtesy of the Consulate General of Mexico in Shanghai

Lorena Larios Rodriguez,

Consul General of Mexico in Shanghai

We have very positive expectations and are excited to show a varied selection of Mexican products to the Chinese public in Shanghai, one of the most economically dynamic regions in China. We hope the third CIIE serves as a starting point for more and new partnerships between Mexican and Chinese companies.

Mexico is moving ahead with a comprehensive formula to introduce itself to China: Culture + Commerce + Tourism. 

This year, Mexico's participation in the Food and Agricultural Products Exhibition will bring high-quality products through Casa Mexico - a Mexican import company based in Shanghai - as well as the government of Jalisco, a highly industrialized and agriculturally-strong state in western Mexico. We will present new products to Chinese customers, in order to achieve the same success of Mexican avocado, the best in the world.

Hüseyin Emre Engin, Consul General of Turkey in Shanghai Photo: GT

Hüseyin Emre Engin, 

Consul General of Turkey in Shanghai

Last year, we had something like 60 companies here in the exhibition, mostly from the food and drink industries. This year, it's going to be like 15 companies and unions that Turkey will be represented here with. 

For our exporters, it's a huge opportunity to bring their food, their goods, to present what they produce to the Chinese market and buyers here. Our companies will be here with their own representatives that are in China. Hopefully next year after this whole COVID-19 is over, we will begin very strongly to be presented in the next one.

What we appreciate is that China is doing again this event this year and trying to accommodate the foreign delegations and the embassies as much as possible. Although it has its own very strict restrictions, they're adamant to make this event a success.

So we're trying to contribute as much as possible from our side so that this event will be a success to show that China is open to imports and it's trying to increase the trade volume. We are trying to find the right connections so that our companies in Turkey can contact their partners here through online channels.

In the post pandemic period, we are hoping and we're preparing to bring more Chinese tourists to different parts of Turkey. It's got a lot to offer to the Chinese tourists that are very much inclined to learn about the history of the world, of the people of the civilizations. This will help to bring our countries more together, making those who go to Turkey and those who come to China to see things beyond the clichés that are shown, especially in the Western media, really fall in love with each other and fall in love with both countries.

Marie-Claire Swärd Capra, Consul General of Sweden in Shanghai Photo: GT

Marie-Claire Swärd Capra,

Consul General of Sweden in Shanghai

With the COVID situation we have assembled quite some companies that are all in the health sector, [notably], the sector of health and medical equipment. We have quite a large Swedish presence at the CIIE this year. There will be 16 companies in all. It's more or less the same. So it's not like 2020 has been a downturn in Swedish participation.

Since there are travel restrictions coming into China we have our companies here with their personnel here. What we expect is that there will be an even deepened exchange B2B from people who are actually in China.

For me, it's going to be an adventure to see it and to participate. It's a huge endeavor that you do and take quite some preparation. I am looking very much forward myself to seeing this.

The CIIE is an important platform. And I think that is why you see Swedish participation through the years. Our trade is fairly balanced between Sweden and China. Import and export between Sweden and China are fairly balanced. Of course, it is very important for us that China imports. It is an important venue that China opens up its import the way that you do.

Tom Barker, Acting Consul General of New Zealand in Shanghai Photo: GT

Tom Barker

Acting Consul General of New Zealand in Shanghai

The COVID-19 pandemic has definitely added a lot of complications to how both China and participating exhibitors prepare and engage in the CIIE. Despite COVID-19, we still have a lot of companies who want to come to China to participate in the expo.

The New Zealand government, as we did in previous years, will have some supported pavilions - one for the food and beverage space, called the "Taste New Zealand" - one in the medicine and healthcare area, which was the feature on the healthcare aspect of New Zealand exports to China.

Despite those challenges, it will also be an exciting opportunity for our exporters.

China is a really significant market for New Zealand. COVID-19 has shown the world the importance of healthy food and of being aware of your health and your environment. 

And that's the space I think New Zealand fits quite nicely into. We export a lot of premium, safe, high quality, healthy food products, as well as things like healthcare products. 

I think that's really important because that helps bring countries together through trade and through those connections trade has built. We develop closer ties and people-to-people links. That helps bring us all forward. Rising tides float all ships.

Xavier Chatte-Ruols, Commercial consul of the Consulate General of France in Shanghai Photo: GT

Xavier Chatte-Ruols

Commercial consul of the Consulate General of France in Shanghai

During the third edition of CIIE, France will organize for the first time a sectorial pavilion under the banner "Taste France."  This pavilion will be located in hall 1.1. It will showcase the French food & wine expertise and know-how. With the support of the French Ministry of Agriculture, the French Consulate General in Shanghai and Business France agency, the pavilion will welcome eight French companies that are already based and develop long-term partnerships in China. 

We will also welcome two French regions which are developing strong cooperation and penetration in China. The first one is Nouvelle Aquitaine and the second one is Occitanie. Every day from the 6th to the 10th of November, a series of events will take place on the pavilion such as wine & spirits master class in a dedicated "French Tasting Room," cooking demonstrations and Kols and Livestreaming sessions. Chinese consumers are more and more demanding in terms of quality, safety and healthy food products. The French offer reaches the high standard of quality that the Chinese market seeks. You are kindly invited to visit "Taste France!"

Niv Hanan, Economic consul of the Consulate General of Israel in Shanghai Photo: GT

Niv Hanan 

Economic consul of the Consulate General of Israel in Shanghai

This year, due to the situation with the COVID-19, we have around ten companies that will participate in the CIIE. Due to the situation, a lot of Israeli businessmen cannot come and join and participate in the CIIE. 

We have several of ceremonies that we will participate. For instance, Watergen, a water company that literally converts air to drinkable water, will have its own pavilion at the venue. Some cosmetics and medical devices will also present through their local network here in China

I hope when everything goes back to normal, we will see more Israeli companies in the CIIE.

I'm only a few months in Shanghai, and it will be my first CIIE. I really want to see it firsthand. This is my expectation to see this mega event, especially in this year with all the difficulties and challenges that the Chinese people and everyone in the world.

From a business perspective, I would like to see more collaboration between Israeli companies and Chinese companies. The relationship between Israeli and Chinese companies is getting tighter and tighter amid the coronavirus. 

Shanghai Photo: IC

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