At a forum held on Monday in the Spanish capital, Chinese and Spanish businesspeople jointly explored the export and import potential arising from the train line between Yiwu and Madrid.
The Yiwu-Madrid freight route links Zhejiang's Yiwu, the world's largest wholesale market for small consumer goods, with the European commodity center of Madrid by way of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
Dubbed Yixin'ou in Chinese (Yiwu-Xinjiang-Europe), the 13,052-kilometer line is the longest train route in the world. With travel time one-third of shipping via sea and cost one-fifth that of air freight, it has stimulated the local import and export business.
The Yiwu Economic and Trade Cooperation Forum was co-organized by the Yiwu city government and the Mayor of Madrid. It brought together Spanish companies that showcased their products and Chinese importers interested in bringing to China items such as cosmetics, ham, wine and olive oil.
"The Spaniards have brought their manufactures and Yiwu entrepreneurs are very interested in buying them, which is why we are here, to accelerate, promote and visualize the massive exchange between both parties," president of the Foundation for the Exchange between Madrid and Yiwu, Mao Wenjin, told Xinhua.
Fu Chunming, deputy secretary of the standing committee of the Municipal People's Congress of Yiwu, said Yiwu is the largest commodity market in the world, and it sometimes causes a trade imbalance with Madrid.
"Yiwu has already noticed the problem of imbalance in import and export, and we will expand imports from Spain and we will make the trains return full," he said.
He also highlighted the importance of the train line between the Chinese city and the Spanish capital.
"We used to say that Yiwu is the starting point for the China-Europe freight train, but Madrid can also become that of China's imports, with nearly 1.4 billion Chinese consumers buying quality products from Spain," Fu Chunming said.
The general coordinator of the Mayor's Office of Madrid, Luis Cueto, highlighted the importance of "understanding the Chinese culture" and the way they do things.
"Over the last four years since the inauguration of this train line which works as a cultural messenger, the two parties have been getting closer and closer," he said.
Director of the Asian Office of the Spanish Institute of Foreign Trade (ICEX), Alicia Tamames, said that China is the seventh largest investor in Spain, with a bet of more than 11 billion euros (12.6 billion U.S. dollars). A total of 150 Chinese companies have invested in Spain and have created some 15,000 jobs.
She also said China is the twenty-fourth destination of Spanish investment with more than 3.1 billion euros and that there are more than 600 Spanish companies in the Asian country that have created 30,674 jobs.
"Investments will continue to increase, in Spain, in Europe and in the world, and China's potential for investment abroad is enormous, and I believe that in the case of Spain, it will increase especially in very important sectors to cover demand of the growing middle class in China," Tamames said.
She also said that most of the investments would go to emblematic products of Spanish trade, such as agri-food and consumer goods.
"These are sectors that are going to be important and of interest for Chinese companies that want to acquire brands and products with quality, prestige and design," Tamames said.
The train between Madrid and Yiwu travels twice a week and both countries export different products.
In the case of China, the range is wider and has more than 2,000 products, but goods that leave Madrid mainly belong to the agri-food sector, namely oil, ham or wine.
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