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U.S. Companies Seize Opportunities at China Import Expo

The sixth China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai has been underway for just four days and U.S. enterprise Anderson Northwest has already sealed deals with a Chinese trader from Nanjing, capital of eastern Jiangsu Province, for the purchase of dry peas and green lentils worth 4 million U.S. dollars.

The second edition of the CIIE in 2019 was the U.S. trading company’s first attendance at the import expo, during which it forged a partnership worth 1 million U.S. dollars with this same Chinese trader.

The deal came as a pleasant surprise, recalls Mike Anderson, the president and fourth-generation successor of Anderson Northwest, who has attended the CIIE four times. During last year’s expo, the duo inked purchase intents exceeding 5 million U.S. dollars.

The successful deals of Anderson Northwest exemplify how U.S. businesses seize opportunities at the CIIE, standing in stark contrast to the rhetoric of so-called “decoupling” or “de-risking” from China promoted by some U.S. politicians.

This year, more than 200 U.S. exhibitors in agricultural, semiconductors, medical devices, new energy vehicles, cosmetics, and other sectors have attended the annual import expo, marking the largest U.S. presence in the history of the CIIE. Among the exhibitors are 17 from the agricultural and food industry, led by the U.S. government for the first time.

As the world’s first import-themed national-level expo, the CIIE fully resumed offline exhibitions for the first time after COVID-19 this year. This development came as a source of great excitement for Anderson.

“For our farm, the expo is an invaluable platform, offering us great opportunities to meet potential customers,” he said.

China’s market is stable, which provides a large room for cooperation, he added. “Partnering with Chinese enterprises reduces potential risks we may face amid global uncertainties.”   

A stable economic and trade relationship between China and the United States is what Anderson yearns for. “The recent positive momentum in Sino-U.S. relations is very encouraging. I believe the two countries should have a friendly and cooperative relationship,” he said.

U.S. enterprises are actively exploring new opportunities brought by China’s high-quality development through the CIIE, and Pennsylvania-based Air Products is among them.

The chemicals giant exhibited technologies and solutions for the entire hydrogen energy industry chain and sustainable industrial gases, targeting business opportunities arising from China’s energy transformation and low-carbon development.

“The expo is a window as well as a starting point,” said Saw Choon Seong, Air Products’ China president. “In addition to facilitating transactions, the CIIE also builds a bridge for us to achieve broader and deeper cooperation with local governments and customers.”

The U.S. enterprise made its debut at the CIIE in 2020 and built contacts with government officials from east China’s Zhejiang Province. These connections have yielded substantial results as China’s first commercial liquid hydrogen plant, developed with investments from Air Products, is expected to start operations next year in Zhejiang.

“China is an emerging economy with huge energy demand, and it has also made significant progress in environmental protection, which made us a perfect match,” said Saw. “Both Chinese and U.S. enterprises are very interested in trade and environmental protection, and there are great opportunities for cooperation.”

“We have never slowed down our investment in China, instead we have always wanted to accelerate it,” Saw said. “As the world’s top two largest economies, China and the United States are interdependent, and only through cooperation can we solve global issues such as carbon reduction and environmental protection.”

Since the first CIIE in 2018, U.S. exhibitors have been at the forefront among participating countries in terms of exhibition space and exhibitor numbers.

According to data from the U.S. Department of Commerce, the total trade in goods between the U.S. and China in 2022 reached a record high of 690.6 billion U.S. dollars.

“For many U.S. companies, China is their biggest market and they have no reason to leave,” said Eric Zheng, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai.

“China and the United States actually have more room for cooperation, and we hope that more U.S. businesses will come to attend the expo in the future,” Zheng added.