A train serving the Nanchang-Wenzhou-Los Angeles sea-rail intermodal express line departs Nanchang, Jiangxi province, on March 2. (PHOTO by HU GUOLIN/FOR CHINA DAILY)
Nation's overseas orders confronting pandemic stress, soft external demand
Selling products abroad used to be relatively simple for Chinese exporters two or three decades ago. They received orders from foreign trade enterprises, long-term foreign clients and new customers they met at trade shows such as the China Import and Export Fair (Canton Fair) and China-ASEAN Expo, then manufactured and shipped the goods worldwide. Many business owners thus used to have more time to play golf and taste tea with friends.
Today, this kind of management and business model is no longer tenable for them to stay competitive, and may even put business owners at a competitive disadvantage.
Faced with the COVID-19 pandemic, softening external demand, geopolitical and economic shocks and fierce competition from countries such as Vietnam and India in the area of low-end production over the past three years, Chinese manufacturers — especially those from coastal provinces such as Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Fujian and Guangdong — have been boosting their presence at international expos and expanding market channels in emerging markets to drive sales overseas this year.
For instance, Jiangsu plans to support its exporters in participating in 206 overseas business exhibitions, including the International Sourcing Expo (Australia) in Sydney in July and Manufacturing World Osaka in Japan in October this year.
While assisting its companies from new energy vehicles and power battery industries to expand their sales channels in overseas markets, Jiangsu's provincial government will help bolster exports of used cars from Nanjing and Suzhou so as to cultivate new growth points for exports this year.
To help its companies seize more orders in overseas markets, the government of Wenzhou, an export hub in Zhejiang, is offering subsidies to encourage its companies to take part in overseas trade fairs this year. It has set a goal to help more than 300 exporters participate in more than 50 exhibitions abroad in the first quarter.
After participating in the MIDO Eyewear Show 2023, an annual international event of the optics, optometry, ophthalmology and eyewear industry in Milan in early February, Pan Aimei, general manager of Wenzhou Tangfeng Songrain Industrial Co Ltd, together with three employees, sealed $600,000 worth of business orders at its booth in the Italian city. The eyewear manufacturer plans to travel to Brazil, Singapore, France and other countries to participate in various optical exhibitions later this year to win more orders.
"Geopolitical tensions have pushed many European clients to place a smaller number of orders. So, we have altered our marketing strategy," said Pan. "We have already booked booths at optical shows to be held in Rio de Janeiro and Singapore later this year to establish our market presence in nontraditional markets like some economies in South America and Southeast Asia."
Echoing a similar sentiment, Yu Baocai, a sales manager at Shuangtong Daily Necessities Co Ltd — a Yiwu, Zhejiang-based plastic products manufacturer — said that applying for APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) Business Travel Cards, confirming meeting schedules with overseas clients and developing travel itineraries for the coming months have become priorities after he secured a number of orders at the company's booth at Ambiente 2023, one of the world's major consumer goods trade fairs held in Frankfurt, Germany, in early February.