by Victoria Arguello
This past Singles' Day in China confirmed the country's standing as a growing consumer market and increasingly open economy, said Argentine economist Jorge Marchini.
Celebrated on each Nov. 11, Singles' Day in China has evolved into a mega holiday that sees millions exchange gifts and break shopping records.
This year was no exception, with Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba and others reporting online sales of nearly 31 billion U.S. dollars in a single day.
China's booming consumer market has a clear impact on the world economy, said Marchini, vice president of the Foundation for Latin American Integration and professor of economics at the University of Buenos Aires.
"The appearance of such a vast and fast-growing consumer market is an enormously important factor for the global economy," said Marchini.
Shoppers spent 213.5 billion yuan (some 30.7 billion U.S. dollars) on all kinds of goods, including imports, showing that China has fostered an open and expanding domestic market, said the economist.
"The fact is ... China's economic policy no longer focuses its energies solely on exports, but now also on the growth of its domestic market," said Marchini.
According to Alibaba, more than 19,000 foreign brands from 75 countries or regions benefited from the shopping frenzy via Tmall, an online platform it also operates.
"Abroad, they are very closely following this growing consumption, since China's population can now access goods it previously couldn't" due to limited access or purchasing power, the economist said.
The trend is having an "interesting effect" on exporters, particularly those in Latin America, who are beginning to take note of the horizon of trade opportunities China presents, he added.
"China has become an engine of the global economy and a very important one," said Marchini, adding that "its current capacity to absorb products from the global market is a fundamental point for international exporters to take into account."
Existing "uncertainty" surrounding global trade and finance makes China's rapidly expanding middle class much more attractive to the export sector, he noted.
"It's a fact that some world economies are in recession," including those in Latin America, and certain European countries are struggling with economic growth.
"In addition, there are doubts regarding the situation in the United States," he said, referring to the current administration's protectionist stance on trade.
"That's why many eyes are on China and how its growing and increasingly open domestic market creates new benefits for energizing the global economy," said Marchini.
Singles' Day sales on Tmall reached 10 billion yuan (some 1.44 billion U.S. dollars) just two minutes and five seconds into Sunday.
Alibaba first kicked the day's shopping into high gear in 2009, announcing a slew of promotional discounts.
Last year, Alibaba reported 168.2 billion yuan (some 24.153 billion U.S. dollars) in sales.