Market hub buzzes despite downturn

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2020-11-03 14:25 0
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Business is booming again at the Yiwu International Trade Market in Zhejiang province, as a result of the pandemic being largely contained in China. [Photo by Xiao Da/China Daily]

Domestic and overseas traders flocking in numbers to key trading venue in Yiwu

The new dual-cycle development pattern proposed by the country's central leadership has boosted foreign trade in a Chinese city dubbed the "world's supermarket".

This progress has been achieved during the COVID-19 pandemic and other global uncertainties.

This year, the top leadership has on a number of occasions reaffirmed the idea of a dual-cycle development pattern for economic growth.

This means such expansion will rely on economic developments at home and overseaswith the domestic cycle being the mainstayalong with the development of tourism and the services sector.

As a result, domestic and overseas traders are now flocking to the Yiwu International Trade Market in Zhejiang province.

One of the world's largest trading hubs for small commodities, the market is a key player in consumer goods sales.

Despite the pandemic and other worldwide economic woes, the trade volume at the venue has surged, and the market is playing a significant role in stabilizing China's foreign trade and restoring confidence in consumer goods production.

Yiwu is home to more than 2 million medium-, small-and micro-sized businesses, which sell commodities to some 200 countries and regions every year.

The total value of the city's imports and exports reached 136.25 billion yuan ($19.58 billion) in the first six months of this year, a year-on-year rise of 1.6 percent, according to the city's customs authorities.

After a short pause in business due to the pandemic, the Yiwu International Trade Market has sprung back to life as the outbreak has been largely contained in China.

The hardware sector has been among those most severely hit by the pandemic in the city.

Exports, which used to account for 90 percent of hardware product sales, have declined rapidly this year. Local exporters have shifted their focus to the domestic market, with the proportion of hardware products sold in China rising from 10 percent to 30-to-40 percent.

Chen Yanzhen, manager at a hardware exporting company at the market, said, "The pandemic is a golden opportunity and has made us make changes to integrate both the domestic and overseas markets."

Zeng Xiangwan, a clothing exporter at the venue, said he has expanded his store this year and hired more employees. They have been trained in sales tactics aimed at domestic buyers and also in new selling methods, such as livestreaming.

"I'm now thinking about selling clothing to supermarkets in China, as compared with foreign trade, there is more potential in the domestic market," he said.

Textiles and fashionable clothing at Zeng's store recently passed tests for national safety standards, paving the way for him to enter the domestic market.

"The test reports offer us a passport to domestic supermarket chains, and vice versa, and these reports are also acknowledged worldwide. So, when foreign trade improves, more overseas buyers will recognize the quality of my products and purchase them," he said.

"The domestic market is untapped territory and a 'huge cake' for us to take a bite of, as it has exemplary logistics, financial and business services, and a huge consumer base to tap. I think my company will remain focused on domestic sales, but will also place considerable emphasis on exports," Zeng said.


A vendor waits for customers at the Yiwu International Trade Market. [Photo by Xiao Da/China Daily]

In June, 107,600 traders visited the market each day, a rise of 11.8 percent from May.

More than 130,000 newcomers visited the venue in June, most of them domestic buyers from Zhejiang and neighboring areas such as Shanghai, and provinces of Jiangsu, Fujian and Anhui.

Meanwhile, in one store at the market, a female anchor tried various types of jewelry and clothing while interacting with potential buyers in a livestreaming session. During the broadcast, the anchor sold 2,000 items of knitwear.

Such sessions are now commonplace in Yiwu.

Zhu Sufang, one of the first traders at the market to team up with network anchors, said livestreaming sales represent "win-win" cooperation.

Such a partnership has resulted in Zhu's jewelry business making a considerable profit, with 50 percent of its orders now placed through livestreaming. Despite COVID-19, in the first six months of this year, the number of her customers grew by 20 percent year-on-year.

Tapping new channels

Faced with the pandemic, companies and the authorities in Yiwu are striving to find new business paths and opportunities.

Tao Xiaoyan, an administrator with China Commodities City Group, said, "Not long ago, our traders, who were used to the offline wholesale business, refused to cooperate with anchors."

The pandemic prompted the traders to change their minds, and now more than 50 percent of them have benefited from livestreaming sales.

The Yiwu International Trade Market has shown exemplary innovation and vitality during the outbreak.

Responding to the resurgence of COVID-19 overseas, traders in Yiwu have stepped up efforts to expand their businesses globally by collaborating with cross-border e-commerce platforms such as Alibaba and Amazon.

On June 18, Zhejiang China Commodity City Group Co, which is based in Yiwu, and Alibaba Group set up a joint venture on the Electronic World Trade Platform to help more small-and medium-sized companies go global digitally.

The platform is a global e-commerce forum initiated by the private sector, with the participation of various stakeholders.

Local authorities are also playing a vital role in helping enterprises make full use of markets and resources at home and overseas.

For example, on July 1, the Department of Commerce in Zhejiang signed a cooperation memorandum with Amazon Global Selling.

The two sides will jointly promote the transformation and upgrading of traditional foreign trade enterprises in 10 cities in the province, helping them develop export, cross-border and e-commerce business through Amazon's overseas sites.

Wang Dong, general manager of Zhejiang China Commodities City Group Co, said: "The small-commodity market in Yiwu is an important link in the global daily consumer goods trade. Its prosperity is greatly significant in stabilizing foreign trade and boosting domestic demand."

The local government and import and export companies in Yiwu have taken a series of measures to stabilize supply chains during uncertain times.


A buyer selects goods at the market. [Photo by Xiao Da/China Daily]

Chen Zhenzhen, foreign trade manager at Zhejiang Meizhiyuan Cosmetics Co, said that after the pandemic emerged, overseas orders dropped sharply due to drastically reduced social activities worldwide.

However, in early February, the company switched to producing disinfectants to help meet market demand during the outbreak.

"Our company's disinfectant exports, which made up for the loss of perfume business, rose slightly in the second quarter of this year," Chen said.

Platform launched

In the first six months of this year, China Commodities City Group had accelerated online and offline integration to reduce the impact of the pandemic.

In February, the company launched Chinagoods, an online platform, for which more than 50,000 business entities have registered.

The platform handles business license applications, product presentations, livestreaming sessions and payments. It also generally helps micro-, small-and medium-sized exporting businesses improve links with overseas and domestic buyers.

Zhang Dan, manager of a crafts shop at the market, said that during the pandemic most traders opted to handle orders through online platforms such as Yiwu Gou and Chinagoods.

"As the outbreak eases further in the country, we now face the challenge of ensuring we have good production and timely logistics support for the large number of orders that have accrued," Zhang said.

Yu Lifang, manager of a lantern shop, said, "I am so grateful, as the market granted traders a two-month rent exemption during the pandemic."

She added that she will shift her sales focus to the domestic market, as exports have fallen significantly this year.

A Yemeni merchant operating at the market, who wanted to be named only as Abdulraheem, said: "The global trade situation is worse than last year. Many markets in my country have closed."

He added that he was impressed by the economic recovery in China, as evidenced by the revitalization of trade at the Yiwu market.

During the pandemic, an increasing number of companies in Yiwu, operating in areas such as cosmetics and textiles, have turned to new growth points for their development.

Exports of products related to the stay-at-home economy, including baking utensils and fitness equipment, have risen rapidly.

Since business resumed at the Yiwu market, 20 teams from the city have been sent to 27 provinces and regions in China to attract buyers. The teams have also contacted more than 10,000 overseas buyers through foreign trade enterprises, associations and other channels.

Meanwhile, 350 China-Europe freight trains also departed from Yiwu in the first half of this year, with the cargo volume rising by more than 157 percent year-onyear, ensuring Asia-Europe supply chain stability.

Cai Jingwenand Xinhua contributed to the story