An exhibitor (2nd R) introduces products to foreign traders during the 29th East China Fair in Shanghai, east China, March 1, 2019. (Xinhua/Fang Zhe)
The 29th East China Fair, the largest regional trade fair in China, closed in Shanghai Monday with a trading volume of 2.3 billion U.S. dollars.
More than 3,500 Chinese companies and over 450 overseas companies took part in the four-day event that is regarded as an important barometer of China's foreign trade.
The fair boasted an exhibition area of 126,500 square meters, 2,900 square meters more than the previous event.
Participants took upgraded products to the fair, as they aim to tap more market potential in both traditional markets of developed economies and new markets along the Belt and Road.
Many export-oriented Chinese manufacturers have brought their innovative products to this year's fair, hoping new technology and novel ideas can help them gain a competitive edge in the global market.
An umbrella maker in eastern China's Zhejiang Province showcased a new umbrella that can resist typhoon-level wind with a Z-shaped umbrella rip technique. It also features a high-density water repellent fabric.
The umbrella has received patents for its design and fabric in the United States, Italy, Britain and Japan, according to Jia Yong, head of Zhejiang Tianhe Umbrella Design Co. Ltd.
"Facing fierce competition in the market, we have switched our focus to developing innovative products in recent years," Jia said. "Now our customer base is very stable, and orders are growing."
A smart vegetable planter called V-garden has found favor with many global buyers at the fair.
"What we produce is a smart planter using hydroponics that allows people to grow pollution-free vegetables at home," said Liu Fei, general manager of the company that developed V-garden.
The white dice-like planter is equipped with LED lights that mimic sunlight, and it has a vacant space at the bottom for nutrient solutions to grow vegetables.
It only takes about 30 days to turn seeds into vegetables, according to Liu, adding that the smart planter is also more energy efficient and environmentally friendly compared to traditional planting.
"We have received intent orders from Italy and the United States and inquiries from British clients at the fair," said Liu, who is upbeat about his product's popularity in the overseas market.
Zhang Wen, who runs a company in eastern China's Jiangsu Province, has developed a number of smart devices for pets.
A wearable device Zhang's company developed can record pets' exercise time and the number of steps they take. The ping-pong ball sized device is also embedded with customized LED lights that can keep pets safe while walking in the dark.
At the fair, Zhang also showcased a remote-controlled pet feeder that can feed fish according to the weather and time, and dog bowls that can calculate food consumption of the pet.
"We hope our products can enter the Japanese market first, as demands for smart pet products are stronger there," Zhang said.
Another company from Jiangsu developed products aimed at lessening people's housework burden.
At the fair, the company showcased a smart ceiling-mounted clothes airer that can automatically adjust its height according to the angle of sunlight, therefore allowing laundry to dry quicker with more time in the sun.
Zhao Xiangrong, a manager of the company's trade department, said the clothes airer has already been exported to Southeast Asia and gained popularity among young people living in high-rise apartments.
Zhao has expressed confidence in tapping overseas regions where new apartments are being built. "We see great potential for smart home appliances like our clothes airers in southern Africa," he said.
In addition to tapping traditional markets in developed economies, Chinese exporters are branching out to new markets along the Belt and Road.
Focused on the import and export of textiles, household appliances and decorations, the 29th East China Fair in Shanghai is dubbed as a key indicator of foreign trade, particularly in light industries.
The event will hold special matchmaking session for companies in Belt and Road countries, in addition to the existing three sessions for companies in Europe, America and Japan.
Shanghai Textiles Import & Export Co. Ltd. of the Orient International Holding said it sold around 70 to 80 million dollars of one type of fabric to countries along the Belt and Road.
"The large volume is a result of our efforts in developing emerging markets along the Belt and Road. Our market share, consumer recognition and scope of sales are expanding," said Zhu Yi, deputy general manager of the company.
To better explore resources across borders, an increasing number of Chinese companies have established production bases in emerging markets. A factory in Bangladesh set up by Shanghai Knitwear Import & Export Co. Ltd., also a subsidiary of the Oriental Int'l, manufactured 1.2 million sweaters.
General manager Zhao Xiaodong said production is expected to reach 1.5 million this year. Similar factories have also been set up in Ethiopia.
The labor cost is rising in China, but many Chinese firms have rich resources in R&D, and we can cooperate with overseas partners to better cater to the market demand, said Chen Zheng, general manager of Shanghai New Union Textra Import and Export Co. Ltd.