China has been constantly working to foster the development of foreign trade platforms around a variety of themes that cater to the demands for development that occur at different times. In the early years after the founding of People's Republic of China in 1949, in order to break the U.S. blockade of China and to conduct foreign trade, China held the Canton Fair in the city of Guangzhou, which is close to Hong Kong and Macao, in 1957.
China's service sector has made great headway since it joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, and thus China began holding the International Fair for Trade in Services in Beijing in 2012. Within the global context of prevailing unilateralism and trade protectionism, China launched the China International Import Expo in Shanghai in 2018.
As the second largest economy in the world, China opens its own market to the wider world. The upcoming consumer expo in Haikou will center on the exhibition of consumer products, another move by China aimed at advancing toward this goal.
The international community has also shown their strong support for this expo. Currently, although the world economy is still struggling to recover from the effects of COVID-19, businesses from many countries have decided to take part in the event.
The expo will draw together premium consumer goods as well as buyers and sellers from around the world.
The exhibition zone covers an area of 80,000 square meters, with 60,000 devoted to the more than 630 international businesses and 1,165 international brands from 69 countries and territories that will participate in the expo. Among them are prestigious businesses and brands like Germany's HANSE Yachts Group, Galeries Lafayette of France and Spanish food and wine giant Osborne. Switzerland will be the guest of honor at this year's expo.
Foreign-owned businesses and foreign brands account for three quarters of the registered exhibitors. While confirming the Chinese determination to open wider to the outside world, this expo also reveals foreign businesses and brands' confidence in the Chinese market and economy. The number of China's middle-income earners has already reached 400 million, and given its overall population of 1.4 billion, China is now the most promising consumer market in the world. In 2020, its imports of consumer products hit 1.57 trillion yuan ($240 billion), up by 8.2 percent year-on-year, outpacing the growth rate of goods imports over the same period. The first two months of this year saw China's consumer products imports jump by 16 percent.
Hainan is now home to the world's largest free trade port. By attending the consumer products expo, businesses, commercial associations and government agencies from across the globe are able to enter the Chinese market by availing themselves of the duty-free policies offered by this port.
To build Hainan's port into a free trade port with Chinese characteristics is a concrete move to embrace an open model of world economy. Thus, to hold the consumer products expo in Hainan will not only help to push forward the development of the free trade port itself, but also help with the country's new development paradigm featuring dual circulation, in which domestic and overseas markets reinforce each other, with the domestic market as the mainstay.
Meanwhile, the expo is more than a consumer products exhibition platform. It is also a helpful platform for international exchanges and cooperation, where exhibitors from across the globe are expected to explore new business opportunities and strengthen connections. Additionally, China will take advantage of this grand international exhibition to push its own opening up to a higher level.
(Print Edition Title: An International Platform of Consumption)