One notable feature of this year's China International Commodities Fair is that "standard" (as in quality-related benchmark or specification) has, for the very first time, become an important element of the 24-year-old event at Yiwu in Zhejiang province.
In front of many exhibition booths, name-boards have "standards" emblazoned on them, to suggest that the exhibitor concerned has either implemented or participated in setting globally recognized product standards.
The idea is to enable buyers from around the world to have direct knowledge of the quality-related features and technical specifications of their products.
Xia Lingyong, president of Shanghai Jinshan International Trade City, said the move toward standards will definitely boost the image of products made in Yiwu.
"Zhejiang has, over the past years, spared no efforts in elevating the quality of products through continuous market orientation and improvement in management systems. With the introduction of more standards, products here are no longer labor-intensive and low-quality staple goods, but offer high quality at affordable prices," Xia said.
Organizers of the CICF said they will work toward further improvement in the quality of products to be exhibited in the future, in a bid to make international trade conform to standards.
In 2017, a freight train loaded with goods from Yiwu traveled all the way to Stratford in East London - a journey of 10 days, reflecting the reach of the modern-day Silk Road. It passed through nine countries, including France.
Today's Yiwu is far more than what it was years back, when it was known as the global-scale wholesale market for small commodities. Using its advantages like smooth logistics and its status as the preferred sourcing spot of buyers, Yiwu is marching toward the role of a pivot or a trading magnet on the modern-day Silk Road. Its aim: to become a new international trade city featuring high-end industrial production chains.
It may have already made progress toward that goal. At this year's commodities expo, participants and merchants were from 56 countries and regions participating in the Belt and Road Initiative, accounting for 42 percent of the total.
"Yiwu, with over 1.8 million kinds of commodities available for purchase, will continuously focus on product standardization and commodities' quality improvement, helping push the industrial transformation of the nation, to truly make it a warehouse for global buyers," said Yiwu's Party secretary Lin Yi.