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ARTICLE: As Covid-19 still spreads and disrupts the business activities across the world, how to resume the global economy and social development is a huge challenge for all countries. Quickly resuming the production, supply and value chains becomes very critical. In this context, it is more imperative to conduct international exchanges, trade and practical cooperation by innovative methods. Here, I'd like to present two grand platforms on which China stands ready to work with all the other parties to promote international cooperation, to provide impetus for the recovery of the world economy, and to help build a community of a shared future for mankind.

The first platform is China Import and Export Fair, also known as the Canton Fair, which is established in 1957 and held every spring and autumn in Guangzhou, China. Canton Fair is a comprehensive international trading event with the longest history, the largest scale, the most complete exhibit variety, the largest buyer attendance, the broadest distribution of buyers' source country and the greatest business turnover in China. The Canton Fair serves as the first and foremost platform to promote China's foreign trade, and a barometer of the foreign trade sector, and the window, epitome and symbol of China's opening up. With 63 years' reform and innovative development, the Canton Fair has withstood various challenges and never been interrupted. It is an outstanding platform for Chinese enterprises to explore the international market and an exemplary base to enhance China's foreign trade growth. Up to the 126th session, the accumulated export volume has amounted to about $1.4126 trillion and the total number of overseas buyers has reached 8.99 million. The exhibition area of one session totals 1.185 million sq.meters and the number of exhibitors from home and abroad stands at nearly 25,000. In each session, about 200,000 buyers attend the Fair from more than 210 countries and regions all over the world.

Due to the pandemic, the 127th session of Canton Fair is going to be held online from June 15 to June 24, 2020. Powered by advanced information technology, the Canton Fair will provide around-the-clock online services for product promotion, matchmaking and business negotiations, enabling both Chinese and international businesses to place orders remotely. Like the offline Canton Fairs during the past years, the online exhibition still consists of 16 product categories and 50 areas. The exhibitors/exhibits can be found through targeted search or system's intelligent matching, or through watching the live streams of exhibitors to have a quick picture of the exhibitors/exhibits. When finding an exhibit that you are interested in, you can directly communicate with the exhibitor using the chat window, or submit a negotiation request to make an appointment with the exhibitor for a video chat. The Canton Fair official website supports up to 5 million one-to-one, around-clock online chat rooms, while allowing leaving messages in case of a time difference. So the participants can interact with exhibitors through live streams and instant messaging tools without missing any information, enjoying a barrier-free dealing experience. With a full range of trading services available, the online exhibition platform connects to exhibitors quickly, enabling every participant to find the desired products easily and negotiate deals with suppliers efficiently.

The second one is the China International Import Expo (CIIE), a major decision by China to promote a new round of its opening-up at a high level and a proactive step to open its market to the rest of the world, making itself an unprecedented endeavor in the history of global trade and a new platform for China's international cooperation in the new era. CIIE, consisting of country exhibition, business exhibition and Hongqiao International Economic Forum, held annually in National Exhibition and Convention Center (NECC) in early November from 2018. NECC is the world's largest single block building and exhibition complex with a total construction area of nearly 1.5 million m², 400,000 m² indoor exhibition hall, 100,000 m² outdoor area and over 60 fully-equipped conference rooms. Among the three parts of CIIE, the country exhibition is a unique feature and highlight part, where participating countries showcase their development achievements, distinctive industries, competitive products, tourist destinations, and unique culture etc. Participating countries only display, but do not cut business deals in country exhibition.

The third CIIE, which is going to be held offline between 5-10 November, 2020 in Shanghai. Considering the pandemic issue, China has introduced a series of safeguard measures and emergency plans, including maintaining close communication with exhibition through video and telephone conferences, carrying out "cloud signing" and "online promotion meeting", releasing the list of exhibitors earlier than previous CIIE. As of May, the exhibitor recruitment of the Enterprise and Business Exhibition of the Third CIIE is steadily advanced. More than 1,000 enterprises have signed up for the CIIE, including numerous Global 500 enterprises, with the contracted exhibition area exceeding 60% of the planned exhibition area.

Although the two platforms are targeted for different functions, both of them are committed to international trade and cooperation, injecting impetus for the global economic growth. All participants from around the world including Pakistan are warmly welcomed. The data of Pakistan government shows that 1,047 Pakistan products exporting to China can enjoy zero tariff with the protocol on the second phase of the China-Pakistan free trade agreement (FTA II) coming into force as of Jan, 2020. Pakistan's exports to China are projected to increase by roughly $6 billion in the next six to seven years if the potentials are fully realized. Therefore, it is critical for the businesses circles of Pakistan to fully take advantage of these two platforms to explore Chinese market and expand the export of local competitive products to China so as to increase the production and generate employment.

For more information, please visit: http://www.cantonfair. org.cn/en/index.aspx


(The writer is the Consul General of the People's Republic of China in

Karachi, Pakistan)

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020

Li Bijian

The writer is Consul General of China in Karachi


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