A visitor admires the exhibition stand of Essilor, a European eyeglass manufacturer, at the fifth China International Import Expo in Shanghai on Nov 5, 2022. (ZHANG WEI / CHINA DAILY)

After years of watching their market influence soar in China on the back of their participation in the annual China International Import Expo, foreign companies such as ABB Group of Switzerland, Tapestry Group of the United States and Kao Corp of Japan have gone ahead and booked booths for the sixth CIIE, which will be held in Shanghai in November 2023.

In the second week of November, after the fifth expo concluded, the CIIE Bureau, the event's organizer, unveiled data that showed the total value of contracts grew by 3.9 percent year-on-year to $73.5 billion.

Business executives and market watchers said the CIIE has already become a signature event of China's opening-up, and an avenue to showcase innovative solutions. Some even said the expo is an unrivaled occasion to tap into the potential of the country's lucrative and vast market.

The CIIE's success indicates China's economic prospects are shining ever so brightly, they said. More than 100,000 square meters of exhibition area space for the next CIIE has already been reserved, according to the CIIE Bureau.

"If the current strategy of foreign investors in China is 'in China, for the country', then the next upgrade direction is likely to be 'in China, for the world'," said Arnold Li, senior vice-president of Ingersoll Rand, the Davidson, North Carolina-headquartered industrial goods manufacturer and a five-time CIIE participant.

By holding the CIIE for five years, China has brought an increasing number of cooperation opportunities for companies and organizations across the world. A large number of overseas exhibitors have found suitable opportunities and turned themselves into investors during the expo, he said. 

An industrial robot is displayed at the technical equipment exhibition area during the fifth CIIE on Nov 5, 2022. (ZHANG WEI / CHINA DAILY)

According to a report presented to the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, China will steadily expand institutional opening-up with regard to rules, regulations, management and standards, while stressing higher-level opening-up.

China has developed itself while making contributions to the world in the past decades through opening-up. The country has become a powerhouse of global economic growth, an advocate of global openness and a provider of international public goods, said Wang Shouwen, vice-minister of commerce.

Seeing visible ecological progress, foreign businesses in various industries, including traditional energy, construction, clothing, food and new materials, all incorporated the low-carbon vision into their products and services showcased at the CIIE

Since the country announced in 2020 the goals of striving to peak carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060, China has aligned its strength with pro-ecology and low-carbon efforts to fast-track the pursuit of its carbon goals.

Seeing visible ecological progress, foreign businesses in various industries, including traditional energy, construction, clothing, food and new materials, all incorporated the low-carbon vision into their products and services showcased at the CIIE.

With China entering a new era of green and innovation-led growth, ABB Group, a Swiss technology company and another five-time CIIE participant, showcased more than 40 products and digital solutions in smart energy, smart industry, smart city and green transportation at the fifth CIIE, to support China's sustainable and high-quality growth.

Lars Eckerlein, general manager of ABB (China) Ltd, said the company will put its $150 million mega robotics factory into operation in Shanghai in December. It will be the group's most advanced, automated and flexible factory worldwide — a center where robots will make robots. Apart from hosting an on-site research and development center, the new facility will supply robots to the global markets.

Zheng Dazhi, president of Bosch Thermotechnology in Asia-Pacific, a business unit of Germany's Bosch Group, said China's commitment to promoting green and low-carbon development allows the company to meet and exceed the expectations of local consumers who pursue comfortable and low-carbon lifestyles with its products and solutions.

"Looking forward, we are optimistic about the long-term and stable growth of China's consumer market, and will expand our presence in the segment of green and affordable residential heating systems," he said.

Bosch Thermotechnology made the China debut of its 100 percent hydrogen-ready heating system — a wall-hung condensing boiler with a heating power of 35 kilowatts — at the fifth CIIE.

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After opening an application engineering center in Dongguan, Guangdong province, and an innovation center in Shanghai this year, Henkel, a German industrial and consumer goods manufacturer, said it believes that the CIIE has established as an open platform that will facilitate an inclusive and shared future.

"Our investments enabled us to first produce in China and then design in China," said Rajat Agarwal, president of Henkel China. "Today, we are innovating in China for the country, while supplying international markets with sustainable innovations created in China."

Attracted by China's consumption upgrade boom, Japanese consumer goods giant Kao Corp is also looking to invest more in both innovation and sales network expansion activities in China, bolstered by the country's higher-level opening-up.

Visitors check out Peruvian alpaca products during the fifth CIIE on Nov 6, 2022. (ZHU XINGXIN / CHINA DAILY)

As an exhibitor at the CIIE for five consecutive years, Kao's scale, level and influence have demonstrated closer connection between China and the rest of the world, said Oka Shintaro, general manager of Kao Commercial Shanghai.

These moves reflect the Chinese market's growing significance to the global economy as the country's dual circulation growth paradigm — in it, the domestic and international markets complement each other, with the domestic market as the mainstay — has already taken shape, said Zhang Yuyan, director of the Institute of World Economics and Politics at the Beijing-based Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

The new development pattern will continue to create more space for the growth of multinational corporations in services, innovation-driven areas and businesses related to digital empowerment, he said.

Seeking big opportunities in areas such as carbon neutrality, retail, high-end manufacturing and innovation-driven development, the actual use of foreign direct investment into the Chinese mainland expanded 14.4 percent on a yearly basis to 1.09 trillion yuan ($152.93 billion) between January and October of this year, data from China's Ministry of Commerce showed.

To reinforce its position in global industrial and supply chains and to inject more stability into the global economy, China released in late October the 2022 catalogue of industries to encourage foreign investment. The move is widely seen as part of intensified efforts to attract more foreign investment and expand higher-level opening-up.

For instance, new or revised items in the catalogue cover sectors including aviation equipment manufacturing, key industrial components used in autonomous driving, and high-performance raw materials, according to a statement by the National Development and Reform Commission.

Despite challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, China remains an attractive market, a superior industrial cluster, and an increasingly efficient innovation hub for most multinational companies, said Zhou Mi, a senior researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation in Beijing.

The country's market has unique features in consumption patterns and domestic technology and business model evolution. This has become more different from other markets and calls for business model localization. Engagement and business models of multinational companies should evolve accordingly so as to better participate in China's future growth, he said.

The fifth CIIE attracted 145 countries, regions and international organizations, as well as more than 2,800 enterprises in the commercial exhibition area. Up to 438 new products, technologies and service items made their debut at this year's CIIE, up from 422 last year, according to the CIIE Bureau.

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Among exhibitors from around the world, US companies continue to have a large presence, seeking further investment and cooperation in the Chinese market.

Yann Bozec, president for Asia-Pacific of US luxury company Tapestry Group, said the Chinese market is not only the source of inspiration for breakthroughs and innovation, but also an advanced platform for forging partnerships.

In addition to running 360 stores across China, the group plans to open 100 stores for its three brands in the country over the next three years, Bozec said.

After participating in the CIIE for the first time in 2019, Boston Scientific Corp, a US medical product provider, has established a new branch in Shanghai and produced one of its pillar devices domestically, which was presented at the expo this year.

"We can now localize the manufacture of medical systems in China that were previously imported. This will help adapt the market environment a lot faster and tailor it to the needs of Chinese customers," said June Chang, president of the company's China unit.