This year's China International Import Expo (CIIE) will take on even greater significance for world trade as many of the foreign companies adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic will be keen on bouncing back, said Singapore Business Federation (SBF) CEO Ho Meng Kit.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has put the world on an unprecedented pause in a bid to contain the spread of the disease. The domino effect caused by the lockdown of cities, production shutdowns, restriction of movement and supply chain disruptions has been felt by almost all economies," Ho told China Daily.
"The situation remains fluid with growing concerns that the damage to the global economy will be long and protracted. Our hope is that through global cooperation, the world can fight and win this battle. Post-COVID, I believe the CIIE will grow to be an even more important platform to revive production and consumption and inject much needed momentum in the economy."
This year's CIIE is scheduled to take place from Nov 5 to 10 at the National Exhibition and Convention Center in Shanghai.
Despite the ongoing pandemic, preparations for the event have not been hampered. Much of the coordination is taking place through non-contact means such as video conferences, phone calls and emails.
The pandemic has not dampened enthusiasm for the expo either. The CIIE bureau said more than 1,000 companies have already signed up for the expo as of early April, accounting for nearly 60 percent of the planned exhibition space.
Ho said that Singapore enterprises will once again have a considerable presence at this year's expo. The SBF will be securing a 1,600-square-meter exhibition area to showcase the nation's exports.
He noted the SBF had signed a memoranda of understanding with the CIIE Bureau even before the 2019 edition of the CIIE ended, expressing its intent to be a part of this year's expo.
Since the inaugural edition of the CIIE in 2018, the SBF has been the organization appointed by the Singapore government to lead the participation of Singapore firms at the expo.
"In the past two years, SBF has led more than 160 Singapore companies to participate in the CIIE. Singapore exhibitors had also inked 39 MoUs with a value of approximately SGD$412 million ($295.57 million) at the tailored business-matching sessions," said Ho.
"We are confident that the CIIE will remain one of the best platforms for Singapore companies to showcase their services and products to the Chinese market and beyond."
Singapore has enjoyed a strong trading relationship with China over the years. Since 2013, China has been Singapore's largest trading partner, and Singapore has been China's largest foreign investor.
Statistics by the Singapore government showed the Southeast Asian nation exported some SGD$21 billion worth of goods and services to China in 2018, a four-fold increase compared to 2014.
Ho said Singapore's top exports to China include machinery and electronics equipment, chemicals and consumer goods.
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