New Zealand companies ‘awed’ by purchasing power on display at CIIE
Published: Nov 08, 2023 07:40 PM
Customers browse goods at booth of Pacific Alpaca Home Textile Group at the CIIE on November 8, 2023. Photo: Chu Daye/GT

Customers browse goods at booth of Pacific Alpaca Home Textile Group at the CIIE on November 8, 2023. Photo: Chu Daye/GT

Representatives of New Zealand companies attending the 6th China International Import Expo (CIIE), the world's largest import-themed expo, are impressed by the dynamism and vitality on display as well as Chinese consumers' strong spending power.

The 6th CIIE saw a 40 percent year-on-year rise in the number of small and medium-sized overseas companies attending.

Jack Hu Tao, chairman of Pacific Alpaca Home Textile Group, told the Global Times on Wednesday that on-site sales have far exceeded his expectations.

"We came here with 1 million yuan ($137,000) worth of goods, and during the first two days of the expo, nearly 800,000 yuan of that was sold," Hu said at his booth. "I don't have much left, and customers who want to buy our products are ordering via our cross-border e-commerce channels."

"We came to the CIIE for a third time this year, and having access to the event saved our business," said Hu, a vendor of alpaca-related products such as quilts and down jackets. Hu told the Global Times that 800 New Zealand alpaca farms benefited from this trade, as well as about 8,000 farmers.

"In 2021, the alpaca industry in New Zealand fell into trouble due to the impact of the pandemic. We had millions of yuan worth of inventory at our warehouse," Hu said. "We agreed with our New Zealand partners that we could only survive by opening up the Chinese market. Now all our stockpiles have been sold."

As the world reopens to in-person exhibitions after the pandemic, the ongoing 6th CIIE in Shanghai has drawn some 410,000 attendees, marking a milestone.

Indeed, the atmosphere of bustling business exchanges is so vibrant that New Zealand-based dairy producer Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell humorously characterized it as "overwhelming."

"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.

As the 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 half of 2023, exports rebounded and grew almost 10 percent year-on-year, according to New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Silver Fern Farms, a major producer and exporter of premium beef, lamb and venison, is attending the 6th CIIE.

The farmer cooperative said China has been its largest global market for four consecutive years, and the company brought retail samples of new season grass-fed beef for the first time in China, aimed at gathering first-hand feedback from the China market at the CIIE and exploring the possibilities for its market debut.

Since the signing of the Free Trade Agreement 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 has maintained a growth rate exceeding 10 percent per year, as indicated by data from the Chinese Embassy in New Zealand.