Just two days into the fifth China International Import Expo (CIIE) currently taking place in Shanghai, Alexander Presnyakov, who represents a Russian beer producer at the event, expressed the hope to "come here every year in the future."
Baltika Breweries, a newcomer to the CIIE, is no stranger to the Chinese market as it set up a representative office in Beijing as early as 2005, according to Presnyakov, head of the office.
"China is one of our key markets. We look forward to bringing our products to more Chinese consumers through the CIIE, which proves to be a prestigious platform and effective channel," he said, adding that he has already connected with potential business partners at the 2022 edition of the expo.
From Indian spices to Kazakh dairy products, companies from the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) countries brought hundreds of national specialties to display at the event.
Many of them are displayed in the pavilion of the China-SCO Local Economic and Trade Cooperation Demonstration Area (SCODA), a second-time CIIE participant.
"The CIIE has become an important platform that demonstrates China's opening-up drive, and many enterprises from SCO countries hope to set up booths at the expo through SCODA to gain a broader market," said Xiang Zhiqiang, deputy director of SCODA's management committee.
In the exhibition area of Kazahkstan, a woman dressed in a traditional national costume was seen tweaking electrical equipment for a live-streaming show on social media.
"I hope live-streaming will make more Chinese consumers aware of Kazakhstan's specialties, and allow more people to feel the vibrant atmosphere of CIIE," said Botakoz Yelshibek.
E-commerce live broadcasts have dramatically boosted the promotion of goods from SCO countries in China. In early 2022, the Ministry of Commerce held a live-streaming shopping event featuring over 1,500 categories of special commodities from SCO countries, generating total sales amounting to about 100 million yuan (about 13.86 million U.S. dollars).
This success boosted the confidence of such companies in their ability to expand their market in China. Many of them then contacted the management committee of SCODA, saying they wished to be part of the fifth CIIE, according to Xiang.
Closer business cooperation has yielded substantial results. In the first eight months of this year, China's trade with other SCO members reached 1.73 trillion yuan, up 26 percent year on year, data showed.
Meanwhile, the exports of goods and services from SCO member states to China have shown a trend of diversification in terms of varieties, and also quality and trade structure improvements, said Jiang Jing, a researcher with the Institute of Russian, Eastern European and Central Asian Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
Li Ruisi, a researcher from the same institute, said the CIIE demonstrates China's determination to firmly support trade liberalization and adhere to opening-up, which is highly consistent with the development consensus reached by SCO members in economic and trade cooperation.
At the 21st Meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the SCO held in September 2021, China said it aimed to achieve a cumulative trade volume of 2.3 trillion U.S. dollars with other SCO member states in the next five years.
The active participation of the SCO countries in the CIIE will contribute to a smooth realization of this goal and further promote practical cooperation within the SCO framework, said Li.