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ECF aids Shanghai's trade center construction

(www.ecf.gov.cn)        Updated: 2018-02-26

Shanghai intends to build international economic, financial, trade, shipping, and scientific and technological innovation centers, according to the city's overall plan for 2017-2035. Trade center construction is a significant part of the plan. Meanwhile the East China Fair (ECF), which has been dedicated to promoting Shanghai's and indeed the country's foreign trade development for years, is becoming a major contributor to Shanghai's international trade center construction. The ECF has kept innovating ways of organizing exhibitions to help its exhibitors expand in international markets.

Over the past 27 years, the ECF has kept up with Shanghai's urban planning and development. It is based in Shanghai, serves the country, and has a global vision. With the help of the ECF, Shanghai has brought together trade resources from home and abroad and increased its influence in the global trade sector.

That the ECF has become Shanghai's right hand and major support in developing a foreign trade economy is clear from the following points:

First of all, innovating ways of organizing exhibitions to improve Shanghai's foreign trade based on careful analysis of current trends and situations

Shanghai has encountered challenges due to the changing international trade situation. In the last two years, its foreign trade export faced two main problems -- transfer of production capacity and transfer of orders, apart from the negative influence of the global foreign trade situation and a slowing domestic economy. Under those circumstances, ECF organizers pulled out all the stops and sought innovation to ensure that its big events proceeded well.

A matchmaking event between buyers and exhibitors, launched at the 22nd ECF, has been widely acclaimed by participants. The needs of buyers are collected in advance and then matches are sought among on-site exhibitors. Once a match is found, the parties can immediately start negotiations, which is highly effective and efficient.

In 2016, the ECF began changing its exhibition layout, grouping related displays into professional themed areas, with sub-categories within each theme. The booths are divided by exhibit category; the most convenient method for buyers. In that same year, ECF set up a cross-border e-commerce exhibition area, targeting cross-border e-commerce platforms, and third-party logistics and payment enterprises with one-stop services. In this way, ECF not only promotes the development of traditional foreign trade but also helps attending companies discover new business opportunities.

ECF encourages Chinese companies to pursue independent innovation and to transform from "Made in China" to "Created in China". It has offered an "Innovation Award" for years to outstanding companies that boast independent intellectual property rights, encouraging Chinese companies to grow bigger and stronger in foreign trade markets. A large number of new technologies, new brands, and new daily-life products spring up at the ECF every year.

Against a background of economic reform, the ECF is no longer restricted to exhibiting textile, clothing, and light industry manufacturers, but has begun intersecting with related market segments such as fashion, health, sports, household goods and luxury products. Exhibitors' marketing channels have expanded from the traditional factory wholesale and store-based retail model to global online and offline marketing networks. These changes are significant for the development of Shanghai's foreign trade.

Second, responding to the country's "balanced export and import" foreign trade policy, and co-developing exports and imports to enrich Shanghai's foreign trade

The ECF encourages Chinese companies to attend the exhibition and to expand overseas. It also expects to bring in fresh blood from international markets to give domestic industries new ideas. Therefore, in 2016 the ECF expanded the exhibition area for overseas exhibitors to 3,000 square meters housing exhibits from countries such as Japan, Italy, South Korea, and Malaysia, many of which featured top-rated brands.

With quality services and innovative measures, the ECF has benefitted both Chinese and overseas exhibitors. A lot of overseas enterprises meet new clients at the ECF, accumulating "invisible assets". They also take advantage of the ECF to promote their company image, generating positive influence. Also, many overseas enterprises get to know the new needs of the Chinese market through the ECF. The ECF helps Chinese enterprises enter the international market and overseas enterprises enter the Chinese market.

Last but not least, responding to the country's key strategy of expanding Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) markets, and working hard to promote Shanghai's foreign trade and economic cooperation

As of 2017, Shanghai's foreign trade had regained stability and momentum, and its exports and imports had achieved successive year-on-year growth. Shanghai listed promoting BRI economic and trade cooperation as one of its top priorities in 2017, in hopes of developing itself into a BRI pivot. The ECF consequently regarded expanding markets along the BRI route as a significant goal. In the last two years, trade between China and BRI countries has kept rising. ECF exhibitors are similarly desperate to expand their markets in those countries. The ECF also gives intellectual support to overseas expansion of Chinese enterprises, apart from offering them a place to display and sell products.

With authorization from ECF's trade groups and governments, the ECF council released the Vision and Plan of ECF Promoting "Belt and Road Initiative" Trade Development in hopes of sharing resources and information, adding new energy to the development of the ECF's foreign trade, giving support to company innovation and growth, strengthening general trade, improving processing trade, and developing other types of trade. This plan covers accelerating new foreign trade business models in East China, optimizing the international and domestic market layout of foreign trade in East China, and building overseas marketing networks for that area's foreign trade enterprises. In the near future, this blueprint will be manifested.

The ECF continues to progress in both size and quality. Its influence has grown stronger and stronger worldwide. It has helped upgrade the foreign trade of its host city of Shanghai and made the city more appealing to international trade resources. The ECF, hand in hand with Shanghai, has become an important foreign trade brand.