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Digital technologies expand China’s foreign trade

Rwandan Ambassador to China James Kimonyo recommends a tea drink from Rwanda to Chinese consumers via livestreaming. (Photo from Hainan Television)

By Wu Huimin

China’s consumption scenarios of foreign trade have been constantly widened thanks to the development of digital technologies, such as AI-assisted real-time translation, remote equipment trouble-shooting and traceable technology in production, packaging, shipping and sales processes.

Experts believe that digital trade, as a new form in the trade sector, is expanding new space for foreign trade upgrading

In an exhibition area of an intelligent international freight system of Cainiao, the logistics arm of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, a batch of digital services is displayed.

Visitors can get a clear path of an express parcel from China to its overseas destination by just typing a few parameters into the system. All important logistics nodes are marked along the path on the screen.

An employee of Cainiao told People’s Daily that with this system, every logistics link has become traceable, from domestic warehouses to ports and overseas warehouses, and in end-range delivery.

The 133rd China Import and Export Fair, also known as the Canton Fair, was recently held in south China’s Guangdong province. Apart from arranging offline booths, many exhibitors also set up live broadcasts in the venue, interacting with their clients via livestreaming.

“We have opened online business on international trade sites including Alibaba, and promoted our operations on overseas social media platforms. Thanks to these efforts, our business is constantly expanding,” said Wang Li, founder of exhibitor Shenzhen Maiqijia Home Co., Ltd., an early player in the e-commerce sector.

Over recent years, digital technologies have opened up new arenas, constantly contributing to the high-quality development of China’s foreign trade.

Sun Yuning, vice minister of the General Administration of Customs of China, noted that cross-border e-commerce has become a new engine of the country’s foreign trade development and an important part of China’s high-quality development, with its volume doubling from 1 trillion yuan ($142.12 billion) in 2018 to 2.11 trillion yuan in 2022.

While expanding its volume, the sector has also witnessed a huge improvement in its quality, with more and more commodities manufactured in China entering the global consumer market through cross-border e-commerce, Sun added.

Regions across China are actively engaging in the development of digital technologies, embracing new business forms of foreign trade.

Hangzhou in east China’s Zhejiang province has built an AI innovative development pilot zone, a national financial technology innovation and development pilot zone and a world-class demonstration center for cross-border e-commerce.

Jiangsu province, which neighbors Zhejiang, launched measures to promote digital trade, vowing to establish a digital trade sector for its international trade single-window system and build a statistical system for digital trade.

Today, more and more foreign products are entering Chinese families thanks to the application of digital technologies.
A number of ambassadors, consuls and counselors to China have joined livestream marketing activities in the country since 2020, recommending products from their countries to Chinese consumers.

The transformation and upgrading of China’s foreign trade not only benefits the country itself, but also brings opportunities to the rest of the world.

So far, China has signed the Digital Silk Road memorandums of understanding for cooperation with over 10 countries and advanced the Silk Road E-commerce bilateral cooperation mechanism with more than 20 countries. This indicates the deepening cooperation on digital trade between China and other countries and regions along the Belt and Road Initiative.

China is the world’s largest market of digital consumption. The digital economy has profoundly changed the ways of work and life of the Chinese people, and introduced new visions to the rest of the world.

Experts believe that the implementation of the Digital Silk Road will promote the development of cross-border e-commerce and is conducive to making employment more diversified and flexible in relevant countries.

China’s development in digital trade has brought dividends to many countries around the world. More and more countries are expecting to cooperate with China in the sector.

An official with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) noted that China enjoys huge potential in e-commerce development, and cross-border e-commerce is able to further improve the openness and inclusiveness of the market.

The SCO hopes to strengthen cooperation among its members, especially in the fields of e-commerce and digital economy, by sharing China’s practical experiences, the official added.

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