Opportunity is the buzzword for owners of small-and medium-sized companies who have come from across the world to the second China International Import Expo in Shanghai.
Held from Tuesday to Sunday, the expo has hosted over 3,800 foreign companies displaying countless products and services to the hundreds of thousands professional buyers coming from around the country.
Arthur Millen is a Brazilian confectioner who has exported biscuits and candies to 15 countries, but not to China yet.
"It's my first time in China, but I see this is a big opportunity for us to start business here, and I am looking for a local partner," he said to Wang Guanxing, a trading company owner from Henan province.
"I am the one you are looking for," Wang said. "We own eight supermarkets and have cooperation with more than 80 companies in China. We also make orders in many countries that have participated in the Belt and Road Initiative."
After a few rounds of discussion, Millen and Wang signed a memorandum of understanding on their intention of cooperation, making them one of the over 1,000 pairs put together by the matchmaking sessions organized by Bank of China during the expo.
"I've participated in many exhibitions, but not one like the CIIE. I have met and exchanged cards with more than 200 customers during the expo so far, and already received a lot of inquires, which is far more beyond the numbers of previous exhibitions," said Millen, whose company Cory has a booth in the food section of the expo.
"I will be back next year," he added.
Laszlo Regoczi, CEO of Hungarian mineral water producer Primus Natural, is a second-time exhibitor of the CIIE. Last year, Regoczi signed a contract with a company from Jiangsu province to sell bottled water to China.
"We exchanged all the necessary documents at last year's CIIE, and then we followed up with each other to execute the agreement and went through the export process," he said. "The first transaction is very important, and after that we have a good connection and we can extend it to different cooperation."
"This year, we are here again, not only to strengthen our connection with old friends, but also to make new friends," said Regoczi, adding that he has signed a contract with another Chinese company during this year's event, enabling the company to be an agent seller for Primus Natural mineral water in the Middle East.
"To be open, to understand each other, and to be flexible, this is my suggestion for people who want to do business in China," he said. "And one more suggestion - bring your family."
Regoczi brought his wife and his 7-year-old son with him to the expo last year. "My son is very happy to be here again. He likes China very much, and I think we will come next year," he said.
Widjai Jipat is new to the CIIE, but his products are not.
Jipat is the vice-president of Blue Sarefa, a company selling chocolate in the Netherlands. Last year, one of his Chinese friends in the Netherlands told him about the expo, but Jipat wanted to wait and see.
"My Chinese friend then took my products to the expo last year, and he returned with so many inquiries," Jipat said. "He told me that I had to come this year."
Jipat, who had two booths in the exhibition, one in the food sector and another in the home appliance and consumer product sector, said his friend was right.
"Next year we are going to get bigger booths!" he said.