China Focus: Brands, innovation to salvage China's trade: exporters

2015-10-15 21:11

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Exporters at the ongoing Canton Fair say they need to build strong brands and invest in innovation to survive the current trade gloom. The Canton Fair, or 118th China Import and Export Fair, opened in Guangzhou Thursday, with fewer international buyers, suggesting tough trade prospects.

"The global trade market has shown no positive momentum. Under such circumstance, Haier has dedicated itself to building strong brand loyalty among overseas buyers, and moved some of its design, production and sales overseas," said Zhang Qingfu, middle east regional manager of Haier group, a Chinese home appliance giant.

Zhang said about 55 percent of Haier's products and businesses are now "localized" -- manufactured and marketed overseas. In the refrigerator category, the localization percentage is higher, at 70 percent. "Capitalizing on the downward trade trend, we have improved the global business structure of the company," Zhang said.

"We customized our design according to the mentality of different regions, for example, handheld washing machine for Japanese customers who favor small size and convenience. We made super silent window air conditioners for American users who hate noisy and bulky electronics," he said.

Rising costs and slumping international commodity prices have cut the advantage of China's foreign trade. Made in China may need to be changed into "rooted in China, made globally", many exporters say.

Han Yaxi, a manager of Smart Energy Together, one of China's largest solar energy products suppliers, said the company will move some of its factories to Thailand and India. "We also invest heavily in innovation to boost competitive edge, transforming ourselves from simply making parts to a system solution provider," he said.

Using innovation to survive the trade depression seems an inevitable choice. At the Canton Fair, Chigo, a Chinese air conditioner manufacturer, focused on adverting its intelligent machines based on internet technology.

"In the last few decades, many Chinese companies have evolved from selling cheap commodities. Competition now lies in value, not in prices," said Li Xinghao, director of the board of Chigo.

"We plan to raise the percentage of our high-end products to 80 percent in the next three years," he added. The Canton Fair is held biannually in Guangzhou City every spring and autumn. It will last three weeks.

Its 117th session, held in April and May, was attended by 184,801 buyers, down 0.7 percent from the 116th session. The transaction volume was 172 billion yuan (28 bln U.S. dollars), slightly lower than the previous session.

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