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Least developed countries shine at CIIE Release date: 2021-11-22    Source:China Daily

A type of kopi luwak coffee, also known as civet cat coffee, was one of the most popular products at the fourth China International Import Expo in Shanghai, which ended on Nov 10.

I was surprised to find that this particular brand of coffee, among the coffees known for smoothness because the coffee cherries are partially digested by the Asian palm civet, was from East Timor, one of the world's least developed countries.

This was the second time that I had participated in the CIIE. Like the coffee producers from East Timor, I found more and more small companies from developing countries participating in the annual event.

Carpets from Pakistan, drums from African nations and pomegranate from Azerbaijan were among an array of products from developing countries that dazzled my eyes.

Up to 90 companies from the world's least developed countries and 600 companies from countries and regions involved in the Belt and Road Initiative participated in the CIIE this year, said Sun Chenghai, deputy director-general of the CIIE Bureau.

Such change has become a vivid example of how China facilitates trade and drives economic development globally, especially in sharing development opportunities with those developing countries and some of the world's least developing economies.

Over the past decades, China has been endeavoring to build a community with a shared future, especially for developing economies. The country is offering $3 billion over the next three years to support pandemic response and economic recovery in developing countries.

Staff members of the East Timor coffee exhibitor told me that the exhibition bureau offered them a booth of 18 square meters at no cost, again demonstrating China's commitment to its promises and its important role on the world stage.

"The least developed countries face the risk of being marginalized in the global value chain due to their lack of competitiveness, and there is huge uncertainty about whether they can achieve the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals as scheduled," said Song Wei, a senior researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation.

"Hosting the CIIE is an important tool for China to fulfill its World Trade Organization commitments and increase its support for trade promotion and assistance to the least developed countries," she said.

Such efforts from China in promoting high-level opening are bringing real benefits to businesses from those developing countries.

This was the fourth time that Warmpaca, a Peruvian company that makes products from alpaca fur, had participated in the CIIE. Since 2018, the company had become registered in order to take part in the CIIE.

Company officials said sales had grown by over 30 times since it started, primarily thanks to the CIIE's help in bringing in a lot of clients and resources.

As a result of the pandemic, many Peruvians lost their jobs, but the income of the company's 100-plus craftsmen did not decrease, keeping their families financially afloat as well. The first craftsman who joined the company built a three-story building last year and even bought an off-road vehicle, the officials said.

"It is also a good platform to test new products as they can reach many customers in a short period of time," Song said. "They can get the most useful feedback from consumers in a timely manner, so that they can continue to improve their products.

"The stable development of the Chinese market is not only to achieve the country's own development goals, but also creates more value for the international community," she added.

By Cheng Yu