Source: China State Council Information Office
Officials from China and the UK open the UK Pavilion at the 3rd China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai, on Nov. 6, 2020. [Photo by Zhang Liying/China.org.cn]
The UK officially opened its food, drink, and innovation-themed pavilion at the 3rd China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai on Nov. 6.
Taking place at the National Exhibition and Convention Center from Nov. 5 to 10, the CIIE features more than 2,000 exhibitors from around the world.
The UK pavilion is modeled after the iconic Crystal Palace in London, home of the Great Exhibition of 1851, which showcased innovation and technology from the Industrial Revolution.
Themed “Food is GREAT,” the UK pavilion covers an area of 300 square meters, with a delegation of more than 120 UK companies.
The CIIE provides an opportunity to further strengthen economic ties between China and the UK following a record-breaking year in bilateral trade in 2019. Trade between the two countries totaled more than £100 billion last year, making China is now the UK’s largest trading partner outside of Europe and North America.
Graham Stuart MP, minister for exports in the British Department for International Trade, who was not present at the event, said the China International Import Expo provides a unique opportunity to strengthen and deepen the UK’s commercial ties with China.
The decision to showcase the food and drinks industry is emblematic of the fact that these products make up a large proportion of all UK exports to China.
Many UK companies are represented at the CIIE this year. “We have over 100 different companies here at the pavilion,” said John Edwards, British trade commissioner for China, who delivered a speech at the opening ceremony.
This year, a significant focus of the UK government is to introduce small and mid-size enterprises (SME), that may lack contacts or funding, into the Chinese market and encourage them to forge partnerships with Chinese firms.
“There are many British SMEs that are keen to break into the Chinese market. When they can come here under the umbrella of a big organization like the UK Department of International Trade, it gives them a chance to meet with large Chinese organizations,” said Ray Smith, the UK’s Agriculture, Food and Drink Counsellor for the International Department of Trade.
A range of products is on display at the event, including classics such as English breakfast tea by Ahmad Tea and the brilliantly bizarre baijiu-flavored beer by the Baijiu Society. Sparkling wine by Laithwaites was also featured to prove that British wine was as worthy of import as its more famous rivals in the vineyards of France, Italy, and Spain.
Also speaking at the opening ceremony were representatives from China. Yu Lu, vice president of the China Chamber of Commerce of Foodstuffs and Native Produce, said that food imports from the UK to China reached $859 million in 2019, a 14.9% increase year-on-year.
The food and drink industry features many areas of potential cooperation between China and the UK, including agricultural modernization, sustainable agriculture, and agri-tech.
The UK excels in precision farming, precision irrigation, and high-yield genetics, which can help China improve the efficiency of its agriculture, said Smith.
In addition to its physical pavilion, the UK also launched a digital platform in late September with a unique online-only offer that enables Chinese companies and consumers to connect with some 250 British companies before and after the expo.
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