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Central Asian businesses eye China International Import Expo to scale up trade Release date: 2024-07-02    Source:China Daily

From Tuesday to Saturday, the 24th Meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization is to be held in Astana, capital of Kazakhstan.

At the invitation of President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon, a high-level Chinese delegation will pay state visits to Kazakhstan and Tajikistan, China's Foreign Ministry announced on Sunday.

The SCO summit as well as the upcoming State visits have led to more people calling for deeper economic ties and building a more "cohesive, influential" regional community that promotes mutual trust between China and Central Asia.

China has been the largest or major trading partner of Central Asian countries for several consecutive years. Dozens of high-quality agricultural products from Central Asia are being imported to China.

In 2023, the trade volume between China and Central Asia reached a historic high of $89.4 billion.

China's trade and economic cooperation with Central Asian countries has demonstrated the willingness of the world's second-largest economy to promote common development with countries in the region, Global Times reported.

Hailed as a "golden gate" for global companies looking to enter the Chinese market or expand their business, the China International Import Expo, which takes place from Nov 5 to 10 annually in Shanghai, has gained publicity around the world.

It provides a platform for global companies and agencies to interact directly with Chinese consumers and to network with industry players and possible business partners.

Over the years, companies from 173 countries and regions have appeared at the CIIE and grossed more than $420 billion in tentative transactions. Nearly 2,500 new products, technologies and services have debuted at the annual expo.

Numerous Central Asian companies have taken steps to boost their brands and expect good returns as they believe that stronger China-Central Asia business ties will unleash greater possibilities and achieve fruitful results.

"Kazakh producers have shown great interest and enthusiasm in the expo since the very beginning in 2018," said Nuraly Bukeikhanov, deputy director-general of the Qaz-Trade trade policy development center, a key institution for the development and promotion of Kazakhstan's exports.

Serving as a guest country of honor at the sixth CIIE in 2023, Kazakhstan — the world's largest landlocked country — supported 37 domestic companies to participate. With a wide array of featured agricultural goods such as camel milk, meat, candies and honey on display, the exhibition booth spanned 387 square meters.

Kazakh companies signed three memorandums of cooperation and 15 export contracts in just the first two days of the CIIE 2023, reported the Kazakh Trade and Integration Ministry's press service.

As a key player that has been a part of the expo for six consecutive years, many Kazakh companies and trade agencies have seen the benefits of the CIIE.

"The Chinese market offers tremendous business opportunities for Kazakhstani dairy producers," local exhibitor Alibek Smailov stated during the fifth edition of the expo in 2022. "Through the CIIE, more Chinese customers are becoming aware of Kazakhstan's premium green food offerings, including desserts, dairy products, fruit juices, wheat, salt, drinks, meat products, vegetable oils, spices and more."

Alibek also sensed that Chinese and Kazakh businesses were willing to further their collaboration and anticipated that the trade volume between the two countries would keep rising.

Besides the agricultural sector, a contract for uranium supply between China and Kazakhstan stood out among the many deals of 2023's expo. It signifies a whole new level of collaboration between the two nations in the energy industry.

According to Egemberdieva Asel Yerikovna, deputy CEO of Qaz-Trade, Kazakhstan is upbeat about its economic and trade cooperation with China. Bilateral trade between the two rose 32 percent year-on-year to $41 billion in 2023, making China the largest trading partner of Kazakhstan.

"More Kazakh enterprises are expected to enter the Chinese market via the CIIE and make their products known to the world," Yerikovna said.

Another significant Central Asian country, Tajikistan, is gearing up to explore new measures and further increase the scale of trade, expand economic cooperation and speed up major connectivity projects with China.

During the sixth CIIE in November, a lot of individuals were drawn to Tajikistani stone crafts composed of local varieties, including marble, emerald, granite, tiger's eye and jasper.

As the world's first country to sign a memorandum of understanding with China on building the Silk Road Economic Belt, a primary component of the Belt and Road Initiative, Tajikistan in recent years has underscored its trade cooperation with China.

In 2018, 27 Tajikistani businesses from agricultural and trade in services sectors debuted at the inaugural edition of the CIIE, adding to the economic and trade relationship between China and Tajikistan.

According to Muminjon Mamadjonov, manager of Tajikistan's Isfarafud LLC food firm as well as a CIIE exhibitor, the expo has the potential to boost international enterprises' exports to China while having a favorable effect on the growth and collaboration of Chinese and foreign businesses.

The seventh CIIE, which is scheduled to take place in November in Shanghai, is set to continue its streak of success and embrace the participation of more global brands.

According to the CIIE Bureau, 325,000 sq m of the business exhibition area has been booked by exhibitors from around the world, surpassing the figures of the 2023 edition. This year's event promises to attract more global companies and agencies, offering them a chance to capitalize on the vast opportunities within the Chinese market.

"Kazakhstan and other Central Asian nations all believe that the CIIE will continue to be a significant contributor to global development," said Gulnar Shaimergenova, director of China Studies Center in Kazakhstan.

By Ma Linmiao