Province's delegations seek to get more orders
A business delegation from East China's Zhejiang province has started a six-day trip to Germany and France on a flight chartered by the provincial Department of Commerce, in a bid to bring more business to China and offer international companies increased access to China's huge market.
The two destinations are the first stops of Zhejiang's campaign to "send 1,000 business delegations and 10,000 companies to explore the international market". The delegation is China's first business team led by provincial-level commerce authorities to travel abroad since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Through such government-led business trips, it is hoped that companies will be more upbeat about their growth prospects and more willing to go abroad and communicate with international counterparts, according to Li Lin, an official with Zhejiang's Department of Commerce who is also the delegation's secretary-general.
"We will promote Zhejiang's business environment and innovative measures and explore opportunities for economic and trade cooperation between Zhejiang and European countries," said Li.
The delegation, which represents 31 companies, is expected to visit local companies as well as businesspeople with Zhejiang roots to learn more about the local market and take part in international exhibitions.
"We really need such face-to-face opportunities, since we haven't been to Europe for three years and we are unclear what is going on in some local industries and companies," said Fei Zhongfu, a member of the delegation.
Fei is chairman of Jiaxing Ruili Textile Co, a leading manufacturer of knitted fabric. The company, which was founded in 2007 in Jiaxing, Zhejiang, relies heavily on foreign trade.
Ni Huping, the vice-mayor of Jiaxing, said that foreign-trade companies in the city have lost orders and faced great challenges due to disruptions caused by COVID-19.
"The latest initiative seeks to recapture lost orders," Ni said. "But more important, it aims to boost the confidence not only of Chinese companies, but also international companies that cooperate with us."
The trips are also meant to rebuild trust and dispel any misunderstandings among some foreign companies that might have resulted from a lack of face-to-face communication in the past three years, he said.
Jiaxing's government has separately organized a 96-person delegation to Japan and a smaller one to Europe. In addition, Ningbo, another export-oriented city in Zhejiang, sent a business delegation to the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday.
Furthermore, starting on Friday, over 200 representatives of foreign-trade companies and governments at different levels in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, will visit more than 15 Fortune Global 500 companies in France and Germany for the first time in three years.
"All the foreign-trade companies said that they cannot wait to communicate with their clients," said Sun Jianjiang, director of Suzhou's bureau of commerce.
The team will participate in over 230 activities in the two countries, including visiting multinational firms, attending investment promotions and meeting with financial institutions and chambers of commerce.
Suzhou currently has more than 660 German-invested companies, and its trade with Germany totaled $14.8 billion in 2021, up 33.9 percent year-on-year and accounting for more than 6 percent of China's total trade with the nation.
The city also has more than 130 French-invested companies. Suzhou's trade with France — which reached $4.42 billion last year, a 22.1 percent year-on-year increase — accounts for more than 5 percent of China's total with the country.
Nationwide, authorities in such provinces as Sichuan, Guangdong and Fujian have taken similar steps. As China continues to optimize its COVID-19 policies, more places are expected to join the ranks to ramp up foreign trade and economic development.
Qi Xiao and Fang Xiaoying contributed to this story.
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