International trade specialists promote SMEs' massive boom
By Song Mengxing ( China Daily )
Shandong, a coastal province in eastern China, saw the most rapid increase in foreign trade of all provinces in the country last year, in contrast with decelerating economic growth worldwide.
Statistics from the Department of Commerce of Shandong show that the province's cargo imports and exports amounted to about 1.55 trillion yuan ($224.19 billion) in 2016 for a year-on-year rise of 3.5 percent.
The province's exports reached 905.2 billion yuan last year, up 1.2 percent from the previous year. Imports totaled 641.4 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 6.8 percent. Shandong's imports and exports in January this year amounted to 149.5 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 36 percent.
She Chunming, head of the Shandong commercial department, said: "Despite difficulties such as sluggish foreign demand, rising costs and exchange rate fluctuations last year, Shandong saw its foreign trade increase."
The growth benefited from factors including fast development of emerging trade forms and consolidation of traditionally advantaged sectors, She said.
In 2016, Shandong fostered more than 30 comprehensive foreign trade companies. They offer services covering the whole industrial chain for small and medium-sized enterprises and have made SMEs with little foreign trade experience into major contributors to growth of foreign trade.
Among the SMEs is Shandong Aoqi Heavy Industrial Machinery. The company's exports reached 50 million yuan last year, up 50 percent over 2015. It exports truck cranes, primarily to the Philippines, the United Arab Emirates, Vietnam and Indonesia.
Shandong Aoqi has been engaged in foreign trade since 2012, but its exports were limited due to a lack of trained professionals. The company received help from a comprehensive foreign trade service enterprise, Qingong International Group, in 2016. Foreign trade accounted for more than 80 percent of the company's total sales that year.
Meng Wei, general manager of the sales department at Shandong Aoqi, said: "We barely have to deal with the exporting so we can just focus on making our products well."
Shandong Aoqi now has little concern for finding clients, training professionals, export declarations, shipment and foreign exchange settlement, Meng said.
Qin Changling, president of Qingong International, said that comprehensive foreign trade companies are likened to butlers and help SMEs to use their resources more efficiently.
Efficiency mainly depends on new foreign trade forms in Shandong, including fostering comprehensive foreign trade companies and crossborder e-commerce businesses, Qin added.
Shandong also actively worked to integrate itself into the Belt and Road Initiative last year. The initiative refers to a strategy proposed by President Xi Jinping in 2013 for increased international cooperation via the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.
The province's foreign trade with countries and regions along the Belt and Road was 413.36 billion yuan last year, accounting for 26.7 percent of Shandong's total volume.
The Department of Commerce of Shandong's head She said that the province will increase trade cooperation with countries along the Belt and Road, making its leading companies pillars of foreign trade while helping SMEs to become a new force behind increasing trade.