At the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing in 2017, PRC Chairman Xi Jinping proposed an initiative to support the liberalization of Chinese trade: a global exhibition for “import only” goods and services. And 1.5 years later from November 5-10 2018, Shanghai will host the world’s business community for the China International Import Expo (CIIE), the largest ever Chinese exhibition of imported goods and services.
To organize an event of this magnitude, a suitable venue is needed. So the largest existing facility in the world was chosen: the National Exhibition Center in the heart of Shanghai. CIIE took place an area of 240,000 square meters, which accommodated more than 3,500 companies, hundreds of international organizations, and visitors from 170 countries. The total number of visitors, according to the organizers, was 400 thousand people – 2.5 times more than expected. The Chairman of the People's Republic of China and the heads of state and government from 17 countries visited CIIE.
For convenience, the exhibition space was divided into two sectors: goods and services. Both had highly specialized platforms. CIIE 2018 covered almost all sectors: automotive, equipment and electronics, agricultural products and medicine, tourism, transport, and passenger logistics. In addition to enterprises, booths were allocated for each country to provide a comprehensive presentation of national products and services. Additionally, business meetings, consultations, and seminars on the specifics of bilateral cooperation with China were organized.
The Republic of Belarus was represented at the exhibition by a National Exposition. The opening ceremony was attended by officials of the Republic of Belarus and China. At the Belarusian stand, the AsstrA corporate group was represented in the transport and logistics sector block. Vyacheslav Gural, Asian Region Director, shares his impressions:
“This is the first event of such a format and scale in China, and it is important for us to be represented at the forefront of national logistics. At the stand, AsstrA presented information on the company's industry-specific logistics services for electronics, cars and parts, food, as well as its capabilities to connect China and Europe through Belarus. The topics presented were not chosen by chance - these are the key groups of exports being shipped from China. Belarus attracted the attention of visitors thanks to a rich and vibrant program reflecting the country's distinctive culture. We are sure that in the future the Belarusian stand will only grow. In my opinion, it will be interesting for Chinese partners to meet Belarusian partners like BelAZ for themselves. The size of the facility was well suited to such meetings. At the exhibition, AsstrA experts held talks at stands with more than 40 companies from Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, Russia and Poland. The main topic for discussion was the prospects for expanding transport and logistics cooperation under the auspices of the PRC government’s Belt and Road Initiative".
Zhumagali Tangnu, Country Manager of the China Region at AsstrA-Associated Traffic AG, draws attention to the geopolitical characteristics of the event:
“China has the world’s largest national population, the world’s second largest national economy, and incredible potential export volumes. That is why the opening and liberalization of the Chinese market play an invaluable role in the whole world’s economic development. Events like CIIE stimulate this process, show how much work has been done, and indicate how much work remains to be done. Issues related to customs clearance, the lack of capacity and hubs, and the issuance of permits for the transport of individual product groups all still need to be solved to boost Belarusian-Chinese trade and make the Belt and Road and Initiative a success".
On November 7, the Belarusian-Chinese forum was also held. It drew the largest domestic manufacturers and service providers as well as representatives of companies from the PRC interested in developing trade and economic ties with Belarus. AsstrA Shanghai Branch Head Andrei Soroka recalls:
“The forum focused on ways to increase the export of food products and light industry goods to the Middle Kingdom. The participants paid much attention to strategic cooperation between Belarus and China on the Silk Road and discussed the prospects of creating the “Bremino-Orsha” special economic zone, which will play the role of a logistics and production hub in the EAEU.
Thanks to participation in the forum, the AsstrA team concluded a framework agreement with the Chinese company Hebei Taitong Logistic Co LTD in the field of international transportation of goods from China to the CIS and the EU. The agreement gives our clients guaranteed cargo places going from Belarus to North China. We also held productive B2B meetings with potential partners, logistic groups and traders at the Exhibitor-Businessman Supply-Demand Matchmaking Conference. AsstrA experts introduced the Belarussian transport and logistics industry at a qualitative level and made concrete steps towards the further development of the Silk Road.”