SHANGHAI, Sept. 14 (Xinhua) — In a small town with a population of less than 320,000 in northwest China, Wang Gang was surprised to find the same imported milk brand he saw at the first China International Import Expo (CIIE) last November.
The milk was produced by a New Zealand brand Theland, taking only three months to travel from the CIIE to local supermarkets of the remote town.
“Thanks to the CIIE, imported commodities, especially food, now have access to more Chinese residents in small cities and towns,” said Sheng Wenhao, chairman of the board of Theland New Cloud.
During the mid-year sales promotion of Tmall, an online shopping platform of Alibaba, nearly 80 percent of the consumers of Theland’s UHT Protein 4.0 were from China’s third- to fifth-tier cities.
“China’s consumption has huge potential for an upgrade,” Sheng said.
On Saturday, the countdown to the second CIIE hit 50 days. As China steps up its promotion of the fruitful outcomes of the first CIIE, global enterprises are looking forward to new opportunities brought by a more open and freer market.
As one of the star exhibitors at the first CIIE, LEGO opened its first certified store in northwest China in July to expand business in the country’s inland and lower-tier cities.
Paul Huang, senior vice president of LEGO Group and general manager of LEGO China, said that China was an important strategic development market for LEGO Group.
“We are confident in the future development of our business in China and expect to have around 140 retail stores in more than 35 cities by the end of this year,” Huang said.
The huge market potential was not the only attraction for global enterprises, as the country has introduced more opening-up policies in multiple fields and industries.
In only 72 hours, a batch of fresh milk from a New Zealand farm can reach Chinese breakfast tables.
“Customs clearance time has been greatly shortened. It used to take eight days, more than half of the milk’s shelf life,” Sheng said.
Thanks to the favorable policies, the import volume of Theland fresh milk has expanded from 3,000 bottles per week to 30,000 bottles, with the highest weekly sales reaching 80,000 bottles after the first CIIE.
The acceleration of reforms has also been seen in the field of medical devices and pharmaceuticals.
The Leksell Gamma Knife Icon by Swedish medical equipment producer Elekta made its debut in China at last year’s CIIE. The cutting-edge instrument has been put into use in Shanghai since this February, serving more than 2,000 patients so far, according to Pan Li, vice president of Shanghai Gamma Knife Hospital.
“The CIIE brought the world’s top medical technologies and professional procurement groups together,” said Li Bin, a senior official with Shanghai Shen Kang Hospital Development Center, a state-owned institute responsible for the investment, management and operation of state-owned medical assets.
So far, 28 of the 33 pieces of imported large-scale medical equipment purchased at the first CIIE have been installed and put into use in Shanghai’s public medical institutions.
Rounds of new opening-up policies this year have provided more impetus for foreign companies to upgrade investment in China.
In June, China rolled out revised negative lists for foreign investment market access, introducing greater opening-up in the manufacturing and service industries.
China issued an overall plan last month for the new Lingang area of the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone, which will be built into a special economic function zone with global influence and competitiveness, to better serve the country’s overall opening-up strategy.
After the first CIIE, Mars further invested 1 billion yuan (about 141.3 million U.S. dollars) in China, including a pet food factory in the northern Chinese municipality Tianjin and production lines of the KIND bar and Dove chocolate in east China’s Zhejiang Province.
“Apart from the opportunities brought by the import expo itself, China’s constantly enhancing business environment has impressed us,” said Anna E, public affairs director of Mars China.