China is keen on increasing participation by Finnish companies at the second China International Import Expo in Shanghai later this year, a visiting delegation said in Helsinki on Tuesday.
The delegation, led by the Vice-Minister of Commerce Wang Bingnan, held discussions with Finnish businesses and handed out official invitations to 100 representatives for the event in November.
"New Era, Shared Future" is not just the CIIE theme, but an invitation from China to share the huge consumption potential of the country's 1.4 billion population, Wang said at the roadshow held at the Chinese Embassy to Finland.
Speaking at the inaugural session of the CIIE in November 2018, President Xi Jinping said that China is likely to import more than $30 trillion worth of goods and $10 trillion worth of services in the next 15 years as the nation's citizens continue to upgrade their lives.
China has been Finland's biggest trade partner in Asia for 15 years and CIIE is a great opportunity for businessmen from both countries to deepen partnerships and expand economic cooperation, Wang said.
"This year marks China-Finland Year of Winter Sports and we hope Finnish businesses, including those in the winter sports industry, will come and join the second CIIE for demonstration of their products and services," Wang said.
During the first CIIE, a concept biofuel vehicle called Biofore from Finland stole the limelight as it became the expo's first exhibit to reach Shanghai. It was presented in the Finnish national pavilion, which was designed to demonstrate the country's strength in various industries such as forest industry, clean technology, shipping and clean energy.
A business delegation comprising representatives of 91 Finnish enterprises also joined the first expo for cooperation opportunities with Chinese partners, according to Jusa Susia, head of region for East Asia at Business Finland.
Eight Finnish enterprises bagged more than 20 contracts worth hundreds of millions of US dollars during the six-day event, Susia said.
This year, Finland will continue to use the CIIE as a platform to explore more partnerships not only in industries such as information technology and clean energy, but also in winter sports and early childhood education, he said.
As China prepares to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, the nation, which has not been traditionally known as a strong winter sports nation, has joined hand with Finland to launch the China-Finland Year of Winter Sports 2019 to strengthen cooperation between the two countries.
"I believe this special year of cooperation can offer many highly interesting opportunities for Finnish and local companies as well their public sectors, leading up to the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and beyond," said Anne-Mari Virolainen, Finland's minister for foreign trade and development, when she led a business delegation to the opening week of the China Finland Year of Winter Sports 2019 in Beijing in January.
Valle Kulmala, CEO of Air0, a Helsinki-based company specializing in air purifiers, was also present at the roadshow sharing the company's experience in the inaugural CIIE. He said Air0 has benefited more than expected from last year's participation. The company has got to know a great number of end users and cooperation partners, which has allowed Air0 to get a better understanding of the market trend, said Kulmala.
While Air0 has signed up for the second CIIE, five more enterprises including Beneq, Venla-Tuote Oy and Havina By North Oy also registered for the event during the roadshow. Elozo Oy, a Finnish company that has signed up for the second expo, has even registered for the annual event next year.
More than 1,800 companies have signed up for the second CIIE, the Ministry of Commerce has said. Over 900 companies from 77 countries and regions have confirmed participation as exhibitors, including 180 Fortune Global 500 firms and leading enterprises in various industries, Gao Feng, a spokesperson for the ministry, said at a news conference on April 4.
As the world's first import-themed national-level expo, the first CIIE was held in Shanghai from Nov 5 to Nov 10 and concluded with deals worth about $57.8 billion.