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CIIE Story • Celebrating 10th Anniversary of BRI | Import Expo to showcase New Zealand goods and forge stronger ties between nations Release date: 2023-09-22    Source:China Daily


The pavilion of the China Chamber of Commerce in New Zealand at the 2022 China International Import Expo. [Photo/CIIE Bureau]

As a vital opportunity for China to accelerate the formation of a new development pattern and boost high-level opening-up, the China International Import Expo plays an active role in helping New Zealand's small and medium-sized enterprises enter the Chinese market.

"This year's event is sure to be incredibly popular," said Li Ruiqin, secretary-general of the China Chamber of Commerce in New Zealand, a nonprofit organization committed to providing a broad range of support, services and resources to its members in an effort to foster mutual understanding, trust and trade between China and New Zealand.

He added that New Zealand companies began to register in mid-April for the CIIE — set for Shanghai in November — and the 450-square-meter exhibition space and 24 slots offered by the chamber have been quickly snatched up. Li said that ever since the first edition of the CIIE in 2018, the chamber has organized New Zealand companies to participate in the CIIE.

SMEs work big market

New Zealand's national economy is dependent on foreign trade. Around 90 percent of its goods earmarked for export are mainly agriculture, fisheries, forestry and resource-based products. Most of the exporters are SMEs with fewer than 20 employees.

According to the statistics department Stats NZ, China remains New Zealand's largest trading partner. The total value of goods and services trade in the first quarter reached 9.38 billion New Zealand dollars ($5.53 billion). For New Zealand, the Chinese market is not only large but possesses huge potential.

Li said that the reason why the chamber persists in encouraging companies to take part in the CIIE is rooted in its mission to "boost economic and trade exchanges between China and New Zealand" and because of its deep trust in the event.

Previously, the CIIE roadshows were mainly held in Auckland. In 2022, the chamber began hosting roadshows in the cities of Christchurch and Nelson, in addition to Auckland, as the country's many exporters are scattered across both the North and South Islands.

During these roadshows, the chamber heard more from various companies. "They are eager to exhibit in China. Over the past two to three years, they haven't been able to meet their distributors and feel a growing distance from the market. They really want to go back and see," Li said.

Wimpex, New Zealand's largest dry powder and granulated foods packaging manufacturer on the South Island, has participated in the CIIE for two consecutive editions with help from the chamber. In 2022, despite the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, the company met many interested buyers and signed letters of intent during the exhibition.

Organizing companies to participate in the CIIE is by no means an easy task. From registrations, logistics for exhibits, booth decoration and visa processing to travel arrangements, there are many details at work. "When you look at it all, the average communication time for each company is about 40 to 50 hours. Looking back at the roadshow, it's like a sowing process and the blossoming results happen naturally," Li said.

Trade to cultural exchange

In 2017, New Zealand signed a cooperation agreement with China under the Belt and Road Initiative. On Jan 26, 2021, the two sides signed a supplementary agreement to upgrade the free trade agreement between the two countries.

It enhanced the quality and efficiency of China-New Zealand trade relations on the basis of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement, or RCEP. On this path, there is not only economic and trade cooperation but cultural exchange.

China is one of New Zealand's most important tourism markets. At the fifth CIIE, the New Zealand Joint Brand Pavilion had an exhibition space of 400 sq m. The chamber also invited representatives from New Zealand Tourism and New Zealand's ministry of education.

This year, in addition to tourism resources, Maori cultural performances will once again be showcased to the world during the CIIE. Maori cultural performances, also known as New Zealand Maori haka, refer to the traditional dance form of New Zealand's Maori people, featuring synchronized movements, rhythmic stomping, chanting and vocalizations.

On June 25, New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins led a delegation to Beijing. Among the members of Hipkins' delegation were representatives from the tribe that won this year's national Maori haka competition in New Zealand.

"Through the grand stage of the CIIE, we hope that the uniquely charming Maori cultural performances can shine brightly, allowing China and the world to see the fascinating New Zealand," said Li.

By Wag Jinhui