BRI countries, regions shine at import fair in Shanghai
BRI countries, regions shine at import fair
Published: Nov 11, 2021 04:58 PM
An exhibitor from Oman displays jewelry at the CIIE in Shanghai on November 8, 2021. Photo: Li Hao/GT

An exhibitor from Oman displays jewelry at the CIIE in Shanghai on November 8, 2021. Photo: Li Hao/GT

At a Pakistani booth at the fourth China International Import Expo (CIIE), Habib-ur-Rehman from Pakistan was busy attaching "sold" tags onto some pink lamps on one of the booth's shelves. These lamps, made from salt mines from Pakistan, will soon hold a place in the homes of the Chinese families who purchased them.

"The product was first of its kind ever displayed at the CIIE. Over the five days at the CIIE, we have sold over 300 lamps. The products were also sold out at our four offline stores in Shanghai," he told the Global Times during the import fair.

Nearby, an exhibitor from Oman was shooting a video for the handmade glassworks for Chinese social media. In another booth, a vendor was introducing handmade soups from Syria.

Amazing achievement 

This year's CIIE has brought a number of unique products from countries and regions along the routes of Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) such as dairy from Poland, alpaca toys from Peru and glassworks from Oman, all aiming to connect with the Chinese market. 

More than 600 enterprises from 50 BRI countries and regions participated in this year's CIIE, up from the 500 enterprises at last year's event, the China Central Television reported.

Ma Yuxia, an exhibitor trading alpaca toys from Peru has attended the CIIE for the fourth time. Her booth was extended to 36 square meters this year from a modest nine square meters when she first attended the fair.

"Before attending the first CIIE in 2018, not many people knew that about 90 percent alpacas are from Peru," Ma told the Global Times.

After learning from the news that China was organizing an import expo on television, Ma immediately contacted her business partner in Peru at that moment to join in the event. 

The results were impressive. Prior to the CIIE, Ma had only one regular customer and now her products are delivered to over 20 cities in China and sold online on China's e-commerce platform Tmall, with an annual sales value of 5 million yuan ($780,000).

The spillover effect also helped to improve the livelihood of local craftsmen in Peru, Ma said.

When she first reached a family workshop for cooperation, they were only able to sell several toys to local market, earning several dollars for each sale. When she visited the same family in 2019, they had built a three-floor villa and bought a Toyota sport utility vehicle. This year, their home is furnished with modern home and electric appliance, beautiful ceramic tiles and sofa, she said.

"Even during the pandemic, the craftsman making toys for our brand in Peru had seen their income grow. We have received a lot of orders, some of them were on the waiting list for half a year," she added.

Toys made of alpaca fur in Peru are displayed at the CIIE in Shanghai on November 8, 2021. Photo: Qi Xijia/GT

Toys made of alpaca fur in Peru are displayed at the CIIE in Shanghai on November 8, 2021. Photo: Qi Xijia/GT

Train to the East 

At the booth of a Polish milk exporter - VICI Group, the Global Times reporter saw some milk and dairy product as well as a billboard, which read "Belt and Road milk road."

Piotr Zawadzki, the category manager of the group, explained that usually the dairy products are shipped by sea but since a couple of months ago, they have been able to use train to export polish milk to China, the biggest market of the company.

"The biggest influence that the BRI has for our industry is the China-Europe cargo train," Zawadzki told the Global Times.

He said that rail transportation is used mostly for exporting Chinese goods to the European countries while on its way back it will carry European goods bound for China. The company loads its products in Poland which are carried all the way to Wuhan, capital of Central China's Hubei Province, through the train.

As of October 14, over 330 trains have been traveled on the China-Europe railway via Wuhan this year, official data showed. The full container rate remained 100 percent, exceeding the same period in 2019.

Graphics: GT

Graphics: GT

Affected by factors such as rising shipping costs and uneven distribution of containers, an ever-growing group of manufacturers are using rail freight, which saves more than 20 days compared with sea transportation, exhibitors said.

Fresh food and milk product are particularly suitable to choose the China-Europe railway. 

"The shipment from the trains takes around two weeks while the sea shipping takes a month and a half. We chose the railway transport so as to hand Polish milk to Chinese customers as early as possible," Zawadzki said, noting that China is one of their largest markets. 

The China-Europe freight trains plying along 73 routes have transported goods to more than 170 cities in 23 European countries. The train services also provided transport support for the economic and social development in countries and regions along the BRI routes.

Since the start of 2021, China-Europe freight train trips have taken a robust growth momentum with the total number reaching 11,343 trips in the first nine months of 2021, transporting 1.9 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs), up 29 percent and 37 percent, respectively year-on-year, data from the China State Railway Group Co showed.