By Pan Xutao, He Yue, Ren Yanyan
As China’s Spring Festival is approaching, more and more Chinese consumers purchase foreign goods for the holiday, which generates benefits for global merchants.
Data from Kaola, a Chinese cross-border e-commerce platform, suggest that the sales of Australian boots, French wine, Chilean cherries, and lobsters from Boston, the U.S., have soared recently.
On December 31, 2019, a ship from Chile arrived at Shanghai’s Yangshan Port, bringing nearly 20,000 tons of Chilean cherries to the Chinese consumers.
In a hurry to deliver the local cherries to the Chinese consumers before the Spring Festival, the ship took a direct route and arrived at its destination within 23 days, 8-13 days earlier than usual.
The Chilean fruit growers are very optimistic about the Chinese market, said Cai Yibo, manager of the flagship store of Chilean food on the online marketplace Tmall.
Statistics show that the export of Chilean cherries reached a record high of 210,000 tons in the fourth quarter of 2019, nearly 90 percent of which were sold to China.
The popularity of imported goods right before Spring Festival can be attributed to consumption upgrading. The continuous expanding middle-income group has placed China in a critical moment of consumption upgrading, said Sheng Laiyun, deputy head of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
Especially when China’s per capita GDP hits $10,000, the number of middle-income earners will keep increasing, further accelerating the trend of consumption upgrading, he added.
At a promotion activity of Spring Festival purchases held in Lanzhou, northwest China’s Gansu province, a citizen surnamed Zhang came specially to buy American pork and Australian beef. “It is said that the two kinds of imported meat are of high quality and good taste,” Zhang explained.
It was noted that the sales of American pork ranked top, with 1,000 kg being sold at the first day of the promotion. Sea food like Caribbean lobsters, Brazilian cutlass fish were also popular.
Data from Jingdong to Home, an online retail service provider, show that the consumption amount of the consumers in third-tier cities and below increased by 5.6 times year-on-year and the consumption of imported goods increased by 9.8 times.
Fruit, milk, candy, and chocolate are the most popular imported goods among residents in third and fourth tier cities.
The Belt and Road has made it easier for global products to enter the Chinese market. In Xi’an, northwest China’s Shaanxi province, a Spring Festival shopping fair has kicked off, in which over 5,000 products in 13 categories from some 40 countries and regions in Europe and Central Asia are on display.
German milk, Kazakh flour, Russian chocolate and French wine were all exported to the city through China-Europe freight trains.
Statistics from the Ministry of Commerce indicate that in the first 11 months of 2019, the trade volume between China and other Belt and Road countries hit $1.2 trillion, up 4.8 percent year-on-year. A total of 7,469 China-Europe freight trains were launched, increasing 33 percent from the previous year, reaching 55 cities in 18 countries.
On Jan. 1, China implemented new provisional import tax rates that are lower than the most-favored-nation (MFN) tariff rates for over 850 commodities, making imported goods more appealing to the Chinese consumers.
Yonghui Superstores have cooperated with more than 35 countries and regions to import goods from the local merchants directly, said Mu Ming, core partner of Yonghui Superstores.
Mu added that many foreign farmers have realized the potential of the Chinese market as they became much better off after their products found favor with Chinese consumers.
A Thuy, a 40-year-old pitaya grower in Vietnam, is busy shipping the pitayas in her orchard with the cold chain technology.
The Vietnamese, who has grown pitayas for five years, has moved from a cottage to a villa with an area of nearly 400 square meters and she owes it to the huge potential of the Chinese market.
According to Vietnamese media, pitaya exports accounted for 32 percent of Vietnam’s total export of vegetables and fruits, and 80 percent of the exported pitayas went to China.
The huge demand of the Chinese consumers has brought about a great market for countries around the world. According to a report released by the McKinsey Global Institute, China is the world’s largest market of many products such as automobiles, alcohol, and mobile phones, with consumption accounting for about 30 percent of the world’s total.
In the next 15 years, China’s imports of goods and services are expected to exceed $30 trillion and $10 trillion, respectively.
China’s foreign trade rose 3.4 percent in 2019 to 31.54 trillion yuan, reaching a record high, according to data released by the General Administration of Customs on January 14. Foreign trade secured steady growth and better quality in the period.