Online exhibitions, and business matchmaking events vitalize the Chinese market

By Li Zhen, People’s Daily

Over the recent years, China has been moving a large number of exhibitions and investment promotion activities onto online platforms to facilitate economic and social development.

The 131st China Import and Export Fair, also known as the Canton Fair, recently concluded online. It was the fifth time the event was held on the internet.

On its official website, the Canton Fair sets up a series of sections, including Product Release, Exhibitors on Live, and VR Exhibition Hall, building an efficient trade platform for Chinese and foreign enterprises with modern information technology. It enables global merchants to conduct international business without even going abroad.

During the 10-day event, its website was visited 33.9 million times by 10.09 million visitors. A total of 85,300 live exhibitions were held by participating enterprises, in which over 3 million exhibits were displayed, including 951,500 new products, the highest in the event’s history.

Apart from major exhibitions such as the Canton Fair, online investment promotion activities are also being held online across China, and positive progress has been achieved.

Not long ago, the Jiutai district of Changchun, the capital of northeast China’s Jilin province, held an online investment negotiation. It was joined by over 30 representatives from enterprises. The district signed framework agreements on cooperation with six enterprises, with the total investment volume hitting 8.8 billion yuan ($1.31 billion).

Hefei, the capital of east China’s Anhui province, is also moving business matchmaking online. This year, the investment facilitation center of Hefei’s Lujiang county has held more than 30 video conferences to attract investment. “We are moving business negotiation, project assessment, and agreement signing online to ensure smooth investment promotion,” said an official with the center. According to the official, carrying out investment promotion activities online can maximally reduce the impacts of COVID-19.

Online exhibitions and business matchmaking also offer a new path for relieving the burden on enterprises and vitalizing market entities.

“Exhibition booths are scarce resources for small- and medium-sized foreign trade enterprises in brick-and-mortar exhibitions as the area of each exhibition hall is fixed. However, the online Canton Fair has offered an opportunity for many small- and medium-sized enterprises and greatly optimized the resource allocation of the exhibition, contributing to the foreign trade sector by stabilizing market entities,” said Bai Ming, deputy director of the International Market Research Institute at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation.

Besides, multiple provincial-level regions in China have rolled out relevant policies that encourage online exhibitions and business matchmaking.

For instance, the Department of Commerce of Jiangsu Province has proposed to hold an online exhibition to help service trade enterprises in the province smooth supply and demand in the international market.
The provincial government of Zhejiang has made and released a list of major exhibitions to be held, with an aim to involve more local enterprises in online and offline exhibitions. It also encourages foreign trade enterprises to engage in overseas exhibitions to expand international market.

Holding online exhibitions is what comes with the general development of the digital economy, as well as a practical choice amid the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the Business Development Plan for the 14th Five-Year Plan Period (2021-2025), the country will further facilitate its foreign trade sector and encourage local governments and industries to establish national online exhibition platforms for smoother foreign trade channels.

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