CIIE attracts an overwhelming number of customers, says CEO of New Zealand's dairy giant
Published: Nov 08, 2023 02:17 AM
Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

As the world reopens to in-person exhibitions after the COVID-19 pandemic, the ongoing sixth China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai has garnered over 41,000 attendees, marking a significant milestone.

Indeed, the atmosphere of bustling business exchanges is so vibrant that the CEO of Fonterra, a dairy producer based in New Zealand, humorously characterizes it as "overwhelming."

"Coming from a country of 5 million people at the bottom into an expo in which you could fit all of New Zealand inside, it is a little bit overwhelming for a New Zealander to experience," Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell humorously remarked on Monday, sharing his first impressions of the CIIE.

The CIIE is the world's largest import-themed exhibition, with the previous five expos collectively hosting 2 million visits from professional attendees.

"But at the same time, it's not surprising because when China sets its minds to doing something, they do it, and they do it very well," Hurrell told the Global Times. "That's something quite special that China as a country should be very proud."

In the first CIIE following the COVID-19 pandemic, a larger number of visitors, including high-ranking company executives, industry leaders, and association representatives, are able to attend in person. This has significantly bolstered CIIE's role as a platform for global businesses and partners to enhance their connections and share ideas.

"The diplomatic relations between our two countries, and the bilateral trade relationship between our two countries are very strong and positive. Free trade agreement signed in 2008 is a catalyst for the business growth between our two countries," said Hurrell. New Zealand and China are partners in jointly building the Belt and Road Initiative.

"We've seen China emerge quite positively post-COVID, with strong links on health and well-being," said the CEO, who is on his fourth visits to China in 2023.

"On every one of these [visits] I continue to see innovation to the fore … The range of products, the number of customers here really highlight the role China plays in the international market for me," he said.

As Chinese economy recovers from the impact of the pandemic, Chinese consumers are also buying more dairy products from New Zealand.

New Zealand's dairy exports to China in 2022 totaled NZ$7.2 billion ($4.26 billion), down 5 percent from 2021. However, in the first six months of 2023, export value has rebounded, growing almost 10 percent year-on-year, according to New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The China-New Zealand relationship has been at the forefront of China's interactions with developed nations. Since the signing of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between China and New Zealand in 2008, New Zealand's exports to China have consistently grown at an annual rate of 17 percent, and bilateral trade volume has maintained a growth rate exceeding 10 percent per year, as indicated by data from the Chinese embassy in New Zealand.