BEIJING, Nov. 8, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — American entrepreneur Owen Messick happily recalls his company’s "surprising" experience at the first China International Import Expo (CIIE). "I remember that first CIIE very well. It was quite a big impact to us as a company, to me personally."
According to Messick, his company, doTERRA, booked a 9-square-meter booth to test the waters at the inaugural edition of the CIIE in 2018. However, that tiny booth brought the American essential oil brand tentative deals worth 380 million yuan ($55.48 million).
"Heartened by the expo’s spillover effect, we set up a regional headquarters in Shanghai only a month after the first CIIE and began to build a factory and our first overseas laboratory in China," said Messick, who is now the president of doTERRA China.
The company has expanded its booth to 200 square meters at the sixth CIIE, which takes place from November 5 to 10 this year in Shanghai.
Looking back to the first CIIE, Messick says he was struck by the speech delivered by Chinese President Xi Jinping at the opening ceremony.
"I think the main message that he gave was, look, China is open to the world, we are open to having businesses come to China and be successful here. So I think that has really encouraged many companies, including us."
In a letter to the sixth CIIE, the Chinese president reaffirmed China’s commitment to high-level opening up, pledging that China will firmly advance high-standard opening up and continue to make economic globalization more open, inclusive, balanced and beneficial.
Chinese market, a market for all
China has a population of over 1.4 billion people and a middle-income group of over 400 million people, presenting huge potential in terms of market demand, Chinese Premier Li Qiang said on Sunday in his keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the sixth CIIE.
According to Li, China’s imports of goods and services are expected to reach $17 trillion in cumulative terms in the next five years.
Any country, no matter its size and strength, can utilize CIIE as an opportunity to access China’s large market. Guinea-Bissau, which is located on the west coast of Africa, is a good example.
The country is one of the world’s largest producers of cashew nuts. More than 80 percent of its workforce is in the cashew nut industry, and cashew nuts constitute more than 90 percent of its total exports. Cashew nuts are thus not only a crucial income source for the locals but also a key driver of the country’s economy.
At the fifth CIIE last year, a free 18-square-meter booth was offered to Guinea-Bissauan companies to showcase their products, enabling them to tap into the Chinese market.
During last year’s expo, many enterprises expressed a strong interest in Guinea-Bissau’s cashew nut industry and some even set out plans to invest in the African country, said Antonio Serifo Embalo, ambassador of the Republic of Guinea-Bissau to China.
The sixth CIIE again offers complimentary exhibition booths to exhibitors from the least developed countries, like Guinea-Bissau, to help more products from such nations enter the Chinese market.
The CIIE’s approach echoes Xi’s words. In his letter, the Chinese president said he hopes the CIIE will better serve as a window for fostering a new development pattern that creates new opportunities for the world through China’s further development, and as a platform of high-standard opening up that allows China’s enormous market to be shared by the world.
Win-win cooperation for world
Noting that the world economic recovery lacks momentum and requires the solidarity and cooperation of all countries, Xi in the letter expressed hope that the CIIE will play a greater role in providing shared international public goods and services that facilitate an open world economy and let the world benefit from win-win cooperation.
Speaking at last month’s third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, the Chinese president highlighted that win-win cooperation is the sure route to success.
The CIIE has become an important platform for exhibitors from Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) partner countries to enter the Chinese market and achieve win-win outcomes.
Over 1,500 enterprises from Belt and Road partner countries are attending the sixth CIIE, with their exhibition area totaling nearly 80,000 square meters, an increase of 30 percent from last year’s event.
"We are witnessing signs of a slowdown in the globalization process, with geopolitical tensions, trade barriers and other factors causing many countries to focus more on domestic consumption," Kevin Kolevar, vice-president of global policy and government affairs at Dow, commented. "However, China has always been signaling openness. As a country with the world’s largest consumer base, China holds tremendous potential."
He noted that the CIIE symbolizes China’s commitment to and support for economic globalization and international cooperation and openness, adding that the expo not only serves as a platform for global business cooperation but also facilitates communication and interaction among leaders from different regions.