French pavilion unveiled at Hainan consumption expo
Published: Jul 26, 2022 08:21 PM
Visitors surround France's pavilion at the China International Consumer Products Expo (CICPE) in Haikou, South China's Hainan Province on July 26, 2022. Photo: Li Qiaoyi/ Global Times

Visitors surround France's pavilion at the China International Consumer Products Expo (CICPE) in Haikou, South China's Hainan Province on July 26, 2022. Photo: Li Qiaoyi/ Global Times

The pavilion of France, the guest of honor country at the second China International Consumer Products Expo (CICPE) in Haikou, South China's Hainan Province, was unveiled on Tuesday as Paris, a strong proponent for trade liberalization, envisions tapping into the world's second-largest consumer market.

With nearly 250 brands exhibiting this year, France is the leading foreign country participating in the CICPE, French Ambassador to China Laurent Bili told a press conference at the France pavilion.

The ambassador cited multi-pronged data that illustrates the vibrancy and closeness between the two countries in consumer goods trade.

French exports of luxury products to China have doubled compared with 2019, comprising not just traditional luxury items but also perfumes, cosmetics, leather goods and jewelry, not to mention wines and spirits.

Regarding beauty products, China became the world's top market for French cosmetics exports in 2021.

France regained its rank as the leading supplier of wine in China and consolidated its strong lead in the spirits segment, Bili said.

In response to questions from the Global Times, the ambassador said that the current international situation is indeed somewhat complicated, but France would obviously opt for an opener stance when a choice is to be made between more trade protectionism and greater opening-up and liberalization.

France still has a trade deficit with China, while Chinese investment is among the top sources of investment in France, he said, hoping for Chinese consumers to ramp up purchases of French products for there to be a more balanced trade.
Last year, China's total trade with France hit a record high of over $80 billion, Chinese customs data showed.

China's exports to France jumped 24.3 percent year-on-year to $45.94 billion while its imports from France soared 31.8 percent to $39.13 billion.

The exhibition area of French brands covers 2,988 square meters this year, involving 50 French businesses, Ni Qiang, vice-governor of Hainan Province, said at the Tuesday briefing.

The exhibition space, the number of French businesses and brands all surpassed the inaugural expo last year, as French companies are upbeat about the development potential of the Hainan free trade port, Ni said.

"Since the first edition, L'Oréal has benefited from the CICPE spillover effect and booming business in Hainan. As China's first national exhibition focusing on high-end consumer products, the CICPE contributes to the dual circulation development strategy by enabling global high-quality brands to get access to China's huge consumption market," Fabrice Megarbane, president of L'Oréal North Asia Zone and CEO of L'Oréal China, said on Tuesday in a speech at the L'Oréal booth opening ceremony.

"We believe the strategic position of Hainan will help unleash the great potential of the Chinese consumption market, especially with people's increasing aspirations for beauty with the world's largest middle class here in China," Megarbane said. Beauty products sat atop the overall Hainan duty-free goods sales ranking in 2021.

Multiple major French businesses spanning fashion, retail, spirits and beverages revealed plans to expand in the world's second-largest consumer market.

"We have plans to expand our retail network in China to 200 stores within three years from the current 80," Mark Lu, president of Daniel Hechter Greater China, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

The French fashion and lifestyle brand has been present in the Chinese market for 18 years, with its current footholds encapsulating Beijing, Shanghai, the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and the Hainan free trade port, according to Lu.

Daniel Hechter will open two more outlets in the country's largest duty-free shopping complex in Haikou later this year, bringing its presence in Hainan to 10 outlets, Lu disclosed. 

The French brand eyes an expansion into second-tier Chinese cities in the years to come, where people's demand for luxury items would continue to grow along with the economy's rebalancing to be consumption-oriented, he said.

In the case of upmarket French department store chain Galeries Lafayette, a second-time participant in the CICPE, its vision is to beef up its department store network in China to 10 locations by 2025, according to Lawrance Shum, CEO of Galeries Lafayette China. 

After the setup of two flagships - one in Beijing in 2013 and the other in Shanghai in 2019 - new stores in Shenzhen, Macao and Chongqing are in the works, Shum said.

"With the construction of the Hainan Free Trade Port in full swing and the offshore duty-free policy fueling Hainan tourism industry, Hainan offers vast business opportunities to international companies," France-based wine and spirits group Pernod Ricard said in a statement sent to the Global Times on Tuesday.