Written by Guan Qiuyun / Translated by Chen Zhiying
There is a group of people who come to Nanning, China from distant foreign countries. Bringing with special products and excellent skills from hometown, they start businesses in this open fertile land and enjoy sense of gain and happiness. They are Southeast Asian businessmen who start businesses in Nanning after participating in the CAEXPO.
The story of Southeast Asian businessmen and CAEXPO
In a beauty salon of the ASEAN Business District of Nanning, Guangxi, Malaysian Chinese beautician Song Decai and his partners cater to many beautiful women every day. In December 2016, Song Decai came to Nanning to start a business with his unique massage skills. At present, he has owned four branches and has gradually gained a firm foothold in this inclusive land.
Doubts and worries are inevitable when going abroad to start businesses. But after attending the 13th CAEXPO, Song Decai was relieved. “The high-quality platform of the CAEXPO shows me the openness and inclusiveness of Nanning, and the importance attached by the Guangxi government to the CAEXPO also gives us foreign businessmen a sense of security,” said Song Decai. Before he started his business in Nanning, he went to Guangzhou first, but did not find any suitable business opportunity. By chance, a friend told him that Nanning, as the permanent venue of the CAEXPO, has great business environment and development space. So he took part in the CAEXPO at that time and wanted to have a try. The constant flow of domestic and foreign merchants, a wide range of products and huge market opportunities in the CAEXPO have made him firm in taking root in Nanning.
Now, Song Decai often tells the climate, food, and business development space in Nanning to his friends and family in Malaysia and invites them to here. He also joked that the CAEXPO has always been upgrading and the development speed of Nanning is getting too fast, so fast that he cannot keep up with the pace.
In the Laos Pavilion in the 17th CAEXPO, Lao businessman Chen Tian’s 20 booths are particularly prominent. Coffee, rice, tea, furniture and other commodities with Lao characteristics are arranged neatly. Ten years ago, when Chen Tian first came to Nanning with his father, they had only two booths. “With the help of the CAEXPO, we have established a company in Nanning, and its scale is expanding. It is believed that the economic and trade cooperation between China and Laos will be further deepened after operation of the China-Laos Railway in 2021. It is reported that “Lao Wholesale Foreign Trade Company” owned by Chen Tian and his father in Nanning has applied for the certificate of origin from the free trade zone and enjoyed zero tariff. They have become the direct beneficiaries of the construction of the ASEAN-China Free Trade Area.
In 2015 when young Indonesian Tony first came to Nanning, he was lost because he couldn’t find a development direction. Fortunately, he met an old friend in Nanning, an uncle who was engaged in wine trade. It was he who led Tony into the wine industry. However, due to the cultural differences between China and Indonesia, and the low popularity of wine culture in Guangxi at that time, Tony’s business did not go well. Just as he was worried about where to promote his products, his uncle suggested him to participate in the CAEXPO. With a wide range of participating industries and constantly improving logistics and financial system, it is no longer a problem for Chinese and foreign merchants to connect. Believing this is the most appropriate channel for promotion, Tony never missed the CAEXPO again.
“I have been participated in the CAEXPO for six years. I have set up two wine trading companies and a storage company in Nanning. In the future, I will continue to participate in the CAEXPO and find new business opportunities,” said Tonny. Starting a business in Nanning not only set his career on the right track, but also let him meet his present wife and form a happy family.
Now, more and more ASEAN businessmen choose to invest in Nanning, where they can feel the pulse of China’s development. “It’s very safe and comfortable to do business in China” is the saying that comes from these special businessmen.
More people benefit from online CAEXPO
Echoing the popularity of offline exhibitions, the online CAEXPO is also welcomed by many. During the closing period, the CAEXPO continued to provide high-quality services for the Southeast Asian businessmen.
In the morning, Huang Guolong, a Singaporean fruit merchant, while being busy arranging factory production, could not wait to browse the exhibitors and commodity information in the online CAEXPO. Although the cooperative enterprise could not come to Nanning for some reason, through the online platform, they could still place orders directly. “In the post-pandemic era, the strengthening of digital economic cooperation between China and ASEAN will benefit more small and medium-sized enterprises like us,” said Huang Guolong. He also added that the perennial online CAEXPO has created an exhibition platform linking businessmen and consumers. Everyone wants to have a finger in it.
This is just a snapshot of many Southeast Asian businessmen who have benefited from the online CAEXPO. It is reported that since the online CAEXPO was put into operation, relying on new business modes such as live broadcasting, cross-border e-commerce transactions, VR exhibition, and intelligent exhibition assistant, more than 26 Southeast Asian enterprises and institutions in Nanning have successfully promoted their products online. Through live streaming and promotion, many brands and products get plenty of explosure. It is estimated that the online turnover of the online platform will reach US$ 1.1 billion in 2021.
In addition, with the help of the CAEXPO, Guangxi International Expositions Group has built a platform for ASEAN featured commodities to enter China — Dongbogou, meaning shopping on the CAEXPO. It is reported that at present, Dongbogou mainly sold CAEXPO licensed products, traceable high-quality characteristic products and self operated cultural and creative products from China and ASEAN countries, with more than 80 categories of products on sale. And Southeast Asian brands set up in Nanning can display their products online in the Dongbogou. In this way, people can get access to featured goods and services from China and ASEAN countries only by several taps on the screen.
Dongbogou has also made Nguyen Wensong, a Vietnamese businessman doing timber business in Nanning, gradually felt at ease. “In the past, orders kept growing rapidly. However, the pandemic hit the company hard. After hearing about the Dongbogou, I immediately launched the company’s products on the platform. At present, the economic anxiety and pressure brought by the pandemic has been greatly alleviated.
It can be said that the operation of online platforms such as the online CAEXPO and Dongbogou has not only brought many benefits to Southeast Asian businessmen who started their businesses in Nanning, but also gave them assurance that their businesses are well protected.
How to make full use of CAEXPO to win Chinese market
As an important platform serving the RCEP, the upcoming 18th CAEXPO is constantly optimizing the exhibition, adjusting the exhibition area according to the needs of building a new development pattern, continuously expanding the function of the online CAEXPO, planning to invite more RCEP member enterprises to participate in the exhibition, organizing RCEP special economic and trade activities, and promoting the implementation of more projects and policies. With the continuous upgrading of the CAEXPO, how should ASEAN brands and enterprises who want to develop in Nanning take advantage of this trend to enter the Chinese market more smoothly?
First of all, make full use of the existing platform and mechanism and find more new projects and new growth points. Yuan Bo, Deputy Director of the Asia Research Institute of Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, believes that the development of RCEP, CAEXPO, and ASEAN-China Free Trade Area has injected strong vitality into the regional economy. Enterprises should learn and be familiar with the unified rules of economic and trade investment and participation of these platforms, and carry out efficient layout of supply chain and industrial chain in the region.
“Secondly, the CAEXPO has become a bridge connecting enterprises of all countries. In the future, China-ASEAN cooperation is the general trend. Both domestic enterprises and foreign brands should strengthen cooperation in the industrial chain, said Yang Bo. He also said that enterprises should set up more communication channels, to further strengthen exchanges in economy and trade, science and technology as well as people-to-people exchange and transform their willingness to cooperate into more tangible results as soon as possible.
It can be predicted that a continuously upgraded CAEXPO will release more policy dividends. As the permanent venue of the CAEXPO, Nanning will provide greater cooperation opportunities and attract more Southeast Asian businessmen to start businesses here.