BEIJING, Feb. 11 (Xinhua) -- Business activities of wholesales markets, a bellwether of economic trends, have returned the bustling levels across China, heralding the country's broader economic recovery.
Well-known as the world's manufacturing hub, China is home to a wide range of wholesale markets. Among them, two cities, with their own distinctive features and strengths, stand out from the fierce competition and occupy unique positions in the world's wholesale trade landscape.
Yiwu, even though just a county level city in east China's Zhejiang Province, and which was initially built on a barter system, has now positioned itself as a "world's supermarket" after decades of expansion. Currently, this city offers nearly 2.1 million varieties of goods that are shipped to nearly every corner of the globe, while hosting over 15,000 merchants from more than 100 countries and regions.
About 800 km away, Linyi, a less conspicuous inland city located in east China's Shandong Province, now features as a notable up-and-comer in the wholesales industry. Hosting almost all categories of the means of production, this city has built the country's largest professional wholesale market cluster.
Last year, a freight train route linking Yiwu and Linyi was put into operation, and it is set to foster a closer bond between these cities and help more made-in-China goods to reach the rest of the world.
CONSOLIDATING LEADING POSITION
In the face of ailing world demand, traders in China's wholesales markets took the initiative to seek changes and managed to retain their leading position in global business.
Even in the chill of winter, Yiwu International Trade Market remained busy, thronged with merchants from home and abroad exploring a treasure trove of business opportunities there.
"Sometimes I need to receive 10 groups of clients a day," said an umbrella vendor named Zhang Jiying, describing herself to be "as busy as a beaver." Zhang said her company's sales recorded 30-percent year-on-year growth in 2023, while orders for this year are also proving significant.
The hustle and bustle in Zhang's company epitomizes the strong comeback made by Yiwu. During the past year, more than 200,000 people visited the trade market per day on average, returning to the 2019 level. In the first 11 months of last year, the trading volume of the market exceeded 200 billion yuan (about 28.15 billion U.S. dollars), up 13 percent year on year.
Similarly, sales in the Linyi wholesales market also saw hefty growth last year, as merchants actively embraced the era of e-commerce and live-streaming.
"Live-streaming e-commerce significantly expanded the sales radius of the Linyi trade market, thereby prompting upgrades in production, sales, logistics and other links of the supply chains," said Jia Hangzhou, manager of an e-commerce base in Linyi.
So far, 106 e-commerce supply chain enterprises have settled in the e-commerce base, with daily average transactions topping 5 million yuan, Jia noted.
Total trading volume of Linyi Trade City exceeded 610 billion yuan in 2023, and online retail sales skyrocketed 35 percent year on year to reach approximately 61 billion yuan.
BOOSTING BACKWARD LINKAGES
Burgeoning trade in small commodities not only boosted the manufacturing of these goods, but also drove local industries toward improved technology and greater value-added levels.
Zhejiang Jieerke Solar Technology Co., Ltd. is a prime example in this regard. The Yiwu-based manufacturer of solar modules offers over 100 types of new energy products such as photovoltaic panels, solar refrigerators, and lithium batteries.
Lin Jianxiong, a member of the company, said Yiwu provides an obvious advantage in terms of price-quality ratio, as the company can both manufacture and sell new energy products there. Lin added that last year the company's sales had increased by about 20 percent year on year, while the company footprint had expanded from Africa to the Middle East, Central Asia and South America.
As the result of efforts to cultivate emerging industries, Yiwu has managed to develop two thriving manufacturing clusters of the information optoelectronics and automobile manufacturing industries, respectively, with the output of each reaching 100 billion yuan.
For Linyi, the boom in small commodity trade has also been significant, transforming the somewhat isolated inland mountainous city into an international logistics hub over the course of a few decades.
The efficiency of Linyi's trade logistics is such that while it takes about 15 days and 320 yuan to transport a ping-pong table directly from an eastern coastal city to Urumqi in the remote northwestern Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, it requires only 10 days and 120 yuan if a ping-pong table first makes a detour to Linyi before being transported to Urumqi.
"The developed commercial logistics network and a sufficient source of freight in Linyi combine to ensure the non-stop and punctual operation of freight vehicles, reducing waiting time," explained Xue Yong, an official with the commerce bureau in the city of Linyi. "This means the shipping cost from Linyi is 20 percent to 30 percent lower than the national average," Xue added.
Linyi is now served well by more than 3,000 logistics highways reaching all cities above the county level and all ports across the country, and is a key node of a multimodal transport network of railways and airlines that connect it to the rest of the world.
EXPANDING GLOBAL PRESENCE
Eyeing myriad opportunities in overseas markets, China's wholesale industry, marked by traditional sales and distribution models, is accelerating its pace in pursuit of going global.
From initiating TIR transport services to accelerating overseas warehouse construction, Linyi, once considered a domestic-oriented market, has been working hard to develop into an overseas market, vigorously implementing the strategy of "buying and selling goods all over the world."
Linyi puts equal emphasis on both "bringing in" and "going global." Thanks to its advanced overseas procurement channels, consumers in the Linyi trade market can buy products from more than 80 countries, including the likes of Russia, Germany, France and Australia.
Yiwu, already a significant global export hub, has not been idle either. In the face of fragile global demand, many Yiwu merchants headed for overseas destinations to catch up with old friends and meet new customers, boosting trade and investment in overseas markets.
Thanks to the Belt and Road Initiative, Yiwu has entered a new phase of globalization. A symbolic event in this regard is the initiation of Yixin'ou, also known as Yiwu-Xinjiang-Europe, a 13,052 km long route linking Yiwu with the European commodity center of Madrid via Xinjiang.
As of December 2023, the number of import and export containers delivered through Yixin'ou had surpassed 188,000 twenty-foot-equivalent units (TEUs). By then, Yixin'ou had initiated 25 routes, spanning 160 cities in over 50 countries and regions, since it first started operating in November 2014. ■