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China CIIE signals key opportunities for businesses

2019-02-04 7 minute read

Guest-of-Honor country pavilion - UK / photo courtesy of ciee.org


  • 172 countries and regions
  • 3,617 enterprises
  • 400,000+ buyers
  • UK: Guest of Honor

Last year’s China International Import Expo (CIIE) concluded with $57.8 billion worth of trade deals. For 2019, there are already plans to make the event bigger and better – signalling key opportunities for UK businesses wanting break into China’s market.

Shanghai’s inaugural CIIE saw 172 countries and regions, 3,617 foreign businesses (220 from the Global Fortune 500) and more than 400,000 buyers and industry leaders converge on what was designed to be an international stage.

60 British businesses attended the expo and the UK was commended as a ’country of honour’. They were accompanied by International Trade Secretary, Liam Fox; Minister for Trade and Export Promotion, Baroness Rona Fairhead; and HRH Prince Andrew, the Duke of York.

During the course of the 6-day expo, running from 5-10 November 2018, British businesses signed £2 billion worth of deals. ACOLINK LTD, a northern business facilitating and enabling trade between the UK and China, sees the CIIE as a real foot-in-the-door opportunity for businesses wanting to sustainably expand in the Chinese market.

Participating [in CIIE] can be a significant exploration step for exporters who want to go globalAnita Zhang, CEO

ACOLINK echoes China’s One Belt One road initiative. CEO Anita Zhang says, “A state-level trading show like the CIIE is a great time for UK businesses to think about how trading with China can open doors to other opportunities. The Belt and Road initiative is an example of that. Businesses attending the CIIE, including domestic Chinese firms, will also be looking to embrace mutually-beneficial connections with other businesses. Participating in that kind of environment can be a significant exploration step for exporters who want to go global.”

Opening Up Wider

The launch of the CIIE was held 40 years after China’s Opening Up and Reform policy was implemented in 1978. Since then, bilateral trade cooperation between the UK and China has grown considerably. In 2017, UK exports to China topped a record-breaking £22.8 billion.

China is opening up wider for imported goods and services. It marks an increased opportunity for British businesses to export into a growing, sustainable market. In 2019, the market predicted to surpass the US as the world’s largest retail market by over $100 billion.

There is a real and significant demand in China for British products and servicesBaroness Fairhead

Baroness Fairhead attended the CIIE in November in order to champion the UK’s export potential with China. She says, “There is a real and significant demand in China for British products and services. Indeed, recent research from Barclays shows that Chinese consumers are willing to pay more for goods made in the UK because of their trusted quality.”

Like China, the CIIE will also be opening up wider in 2019. It will feature more outdoor spaces and an expansion of the Business exhibition areas and categories, due to greater demand.

Already, over 1,000 businesses have applied for 2019’s CIIE. 500 firms have confirmed their attendance for this year’s expo, including 70 Fortune Global 500 leading companies.

New Era, Shared Future

This year, the CIIE wants to increase and enhance the global trade connectivity it established in 2018. It means that British businesses attending the CIIE showcase not only to China but to 170+ nations in an effort to integrate and enhance an open world economy.

ACOLINK recommends that UK businesses attending the CIIE should be open to exploration and also strategic in understanding the kinds of businesses that they could form meaningful business links with.

In the run-up to 2019’s CIIE, they’re offering services that allow UK businesses better understanding of Chinese the market better prior to the exhibition, market-entry research & training, and value-enhanced services that facilitate following-up after the expo.

As more and more businesses start to view China as a viable market, firms who start exploring the country earlier have a competitive advantage.

UK Trade Minister Liam Fox says, “We have a once in a generation opportunity to put the UK at the centre of the world’s fastest-growing market – and increasing trade with China is at the heart of that vision.”

The bottom line

Applications for this year’s CIIE is ongoing. Get in touch with ACOLINK to find out how this opportunity could work for your business and how you could access funding to make getting there easier.

ACOLINK has teamed up with the PD Ports Northern Powerhouse Export Awards and Exporting is GREAT to present China’s opportunities for UK businesses.

2nd China International Import Expo — Official Video

This article also featured in: BQ (2019-02-04)