Visitors at the P&G booth at the Fourth China International Import Expo in Shanghai on November 5 (WEI YAO)
From 2018 to 2020, the number of U.S. companies attending the China International Import Expo (CIIE) increased from 180 to 198, with their total exhibition area one of the largest among all participating countries and regions.
This year, some 200 U.S. companies attended the expo's fourth edition that took place in Shanghai from November 5 to 10, hitting a new high. Their active engagement in the CIIE mirrors U.S. businesses' continued passion for the Chinese market, the only major economy to achieve positive growth last year amid the worldwide impact of COVID-19, a Xinhua News Agency commentary read.
Trade between China and the U.S. rose 35.4 percent year on year to $543.1 billion in the first nine months of the year, according to Chinese customs data. A report by the American Chamber of Commerce in China earlier this year further showed that two thirds of enterprises surveyed said they would increase investment in China.
"Companies are rational. They value the vast Chinese market and are willing to cooperate with it," Su Xiaohui, a researcher with the China Institute of International Studies, told China Youth Daily.
The Chinese market
Many iconic industry leaders have become CIIE regulars. Honeywell, a fourth-time exhibitor, has expanded its booth area to more than twice that of last year, showcasing innovative technologies in aviation, smart manufacturing, warehousing and logistics.
"As a new international public platform for open cooperation and mutually beneficial development, the CIIE demonstrates China's sincerity to continue sharing development opportunities with the rest of the world and its commitment to greater openness," Steven Lien, President of Honeywell China and Aerospace Asia Pacific, told Beijing Review. The company has a long-standing presence in China, which is now its largest single market outside the U.S. as well as the largest growth market.
China's entry to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001 has allowed for and opened up more fair trade, according to Joe Bao, President of Microsoft China. "Ultimately, we're all part of a global and innovative marketplace," he said.
Among the major world economies, China has been the first to start recovering from the commercial onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, Chinese demand is driving, or substantiating, the growth of many other markets, Xu Yang, Vice President of Dow Greater China, told Beijing Review.
In the first three quarters of the year, China's imports reached a record high of $2 trillion, up 32.6 percent year on year. According to the latest data from the WTO, in the first half of this year, China's import market share increased by 0.7 percentage point year on year to 12 percent, contributing to 15 percent of global import increment.
E-commerce giant Amazon participated in the CIIE for the first time this year. Li Yanchuan, head of China Global Store and Prime, Amazon, referred to the CIIE as a vital platform for stimulating market potential and enhancing global exchanges. The company was looking forward to new opportunities the event could offer and in the future wishes to bring more fancy global goods to Chinese consumers, Li added.
Rene Co, Chief Sustainability Officer and Vice President for Communications of P&G Greater China, also considered the CIIE a very important international platform for business and said his company was happy to be part of it. "We are encouraged by the continued support of the government. Especially in a post-epidemic era, the ability to mount something of this scale is truly impressive," Co told Beijing Review. "Chinese consumers have become the most demanding group in the world, so we need to continue innovating for them. That's why our efforts to step up innovation have picked up pace."
According to Co, the U.S. consumer goods company nowadays launches a new product, either an upgraded version of an existing product or a completely new item, on the Chinese market every four to five days on average.
Xu echoed with Co, saying Dow considers China, the materials science titan's second largest market worldwide, a pivotal center to generate new ideas, explore possibilities for innovation and then export these ideas to other markets.
According to Lorenzo Simonelli, Chairman and CEO of energy technology company Baker Hughes, his company has more than 2,000 employees and seven manufacturing sites in China, both a key part of its international market and an important source of business growth. "We look forward to working closely with Chinese suppliers and manufacturing facilities to mitigate the supply chain pressures currently facing the global industry," he explained.
Dow also witnesses strong momentum in the Chinese market, with Xu explaining how there are two chief reasons for the company's growing confidence. First, the Chinese market potential is massive given its complete supply chain. This is further evidenced by the fact that when a lot of markets were locked down due to the pandemic, China went on to supply the whole world.
From the value chain perspective, China is "constantly climbing the ladder," and now able to produce "more sophisticated products," she added.
Even before the opening of CIIE this year, several U.S. companies, including Dow, had already signed up for next year's edition.
As China now focuses on green and low-carbon development and switches gears to achieve its ambitious climate goals, enterprises on their part, too, have intensified commitments.
At this year's CIIE, Honeywell established a special zone for low-carbon technologies for the first time. With more than 100 years of experience in sustainable development and energy conservation, 50 percent of the company's new products and technology development relate to environmental protection and energy efficiency.
"We look forward to continuing shoulder-to-shoulder advancement with our Chinese customers by capitalizing on the CIIE platform, all the while creating a green and low-carbon industrial ecosystem," Lien said.
P&G announced its Net-Zero 2040 goals at the event, meaning to "achieve zero carbon emissions from operations all the way to the time when products reach the hands of retailers."
As part of this program, it further unveiled its e-commerce packaging made from mono and recyclable materials—100 percent waterproof to prevent parcel damage. Compared with the current corrugated parcel packaging, this upgraded version uses 40 percent fewer materials.
"Today, we're developing a second edition which is reusable. So that it shall be recyclable and can be used over and over again," Co said, adding that this development not only applies to P&G products, but also is designed to serve the overall industry as a novel e-commerce packaging solution.
Microsoft is committed to being carbon neutral by 2030. "As a matter of fact, by 2050, our commitment is to have removed all carbon from the environment that we've emitted since our inception in 1975," Bao said.
During the expo, the company made several announcements along with SGS, a Swiss testing, inspection and certification company, to build an S-Carbon management platform to manage enterprises' carbon emission targets and help users enhance their international competitiveness and green financing abilities under the carbon neutrality goal, he added.
According to Xu, Dow has been providing customized materials science solutions targeting the needs of the Chinese market to help shape a better and lower-carbon future.
As a sign of confidence in the Chinese market, the company invested over $300 million in its Zhangjiagang operations in Jiangsu Province in early 2020 in spite of the pandemic, followed by another plan this year to set up a new manufacturing hub in Guangdong Province.
(Reporting from Shanghai)
(Print Edition Title: Packed to the Rafters)
Copyedited by Elsbeth van Paridon
Comments to firstname.lastname@example.org