Author: Miao Qi

"This year's foreign trade is 'survive the first half of the year and rush to the second half of the year'. But the recovery in the first half of the year has exceeded our expectations, and orders are now scheduled for June. ”

Although the outside world is still worried about the foreign trade situation this year, many business owners have felt the recovery trend beyond expectations in advance. Liu Mingyang, general manager of Yiwu Ouchi Import and Export Co., Ltd., is one of them.

On March 3, Liu Mingyang told First Finance and Economics that a European customer visited this month, saying that he had made a wrong prediction, but he did not expect to digest last year's backlog of inventory after Christmas, "so he came to ask us for fast delivery, and now I hope to ship in 20 days." Such customers, some of whom are on their way to China, have also made the inventory of Liu Mingyang's warehouse quickly drop from a few thousand pieces at its peak last year to several hundred.

On the same day, the first financial reporter also saw a relatively empty scene in the warehouse of Yiwu businessman Lai Guorong.

"At the end of last year, we had a peak of 220.80 million pieces of stock, but since the beginning of the year, there are only more than 100,<> pieces left. This is still the state that the production line has been rushing. As the general manager of Zhejiang Aidu Garment Co., Ltd., Lai Guorong told First Finance and Economics that in the past month or so, they have sold more than <> million spots, and they feel good about the recovery of the global market.

According to data updated by the General Administration of Customs on March 3, China's import and export volume exceeded US$18.2 billion in US dollar terms, an increase of 4112.1% year-on-year; Imports reached $3 billion in February, up 2.1970% year-on-year, both ending four consecutive months of year-on-year decline. Although exports fell 4.2% year-on-year in February, the decline has narrowed significantly from the past three months.

At a press conference on March 3, Yu Jianhua, director of the General Administration of Customs, pointed out that from the trend point of view, on a weekly basis, China's foreign trade imports and exports have stabilized significantly since February, and the last week of February increased by more than 20% compared with the previous week. From the perspective of neighboring countries, China's foreign trade performance is good compared with neighboring economies that have released data.

At the same time, the increase in empty containers, which had previously attracted much attention, has also eased with the improvement of the foreign trade situation. According to the latest customs data, since late February, the volume of export containers has continued to grow.

A large number of Chinese foreign traders who have clearly felt the pressure of contraction in foreign demand since the second half of last year are gradually entering the recovery channel.

Adjusted pains and business opportunities

For Liu Mingyang, the pain brought to him by the contraction of external demand at the beginning is not small, and adjusting the market as soon as possible is his inevitable choice to get out of the pressure.

"Last year, our orders in the EU were cut down, and only two or three million remained." To this end, Liu Mingyang made a change in the second half of last year, targeting the ASEAN and Russian markets, with exports to Southeast Asia increasing by about 50%. These markets also showed a faster and bigger rally than the EU earlier this year.

Liu Mingyang said that in January ~ March this year, the company's exports can maintain a year-on-year growth of 1%~3%, "basically factory orders can no longer be done, obviously feel that the foreign trade situation is better."

However, the initial transition to ASEAN and Russia, which originally had a small share, was not without pain. Liu Mingyang's way is to use the digital technology of cross-border e-commerce to find the market with faster demand growth and the hot products corresponding to the market at a lower cost, and then find matching buyers through hierarchical management to achieve the so-called "finding the blue ocean in the red ocean".

"In fact Chinese it is difficult to sell a product overseas because you don't understand the local living habits, but using digital methods, you can quickly grasp what the overseas market needs, such as what color and shape of cup they like." Liu Mingyang said that this is the first help brought to him by digital foreign trade, and it is also the driving force for him to choose to invest in cross-border e-commerce platforms in the past two years.

The second help is video. "A 59 minutes and 09 seconds cross-border live broadcast made me a net profit of 100 million." Liu Mingyang and Laowai customers did a live broadcast in a Chinese factory through connection, and directly sold 1,7 orders, and also let Laowai place a large order worth more than 5 million yuan for him after the live broadcast.

Lai Guorong is the same, "as long as foreign customers are willing to video with us, there is no one who does not close the deal." He believes that the cross-border live broadcast has significantly improved the order speed of overseas customers, and through the live broadcast to take them around the office area, look at the R&D room, exhibit room, proofing workshop, the order is quickly reached, "more than a dozen new customers (in the past month), not a single one has been dropped, all have already placed orders."

In Lai Guorong's exhibit room, the lights are bright, and the two teams responsible for domestic sales and foreign trade are broadcasting live at the same time from a distance of one or two meters.

According to data from Ali International, a Chinese B2B cross-border e-commerce platform, in the first week of the New Trade Festival in March, 3,70 "foreign bosses" watched the cross-border live broadcast of Chinese factories. From the perspective of the whole year, the number of foreign trade merchants broadcasting on Ali International Station increased by 100% year-on-year, and the number of overseas viewers tripled.

"In January ~ March this year, in addition to placing orders from old customers, we also added more than a dozen new customers on Ali International Station, including Europe, America, Japan and the Middle East." Lai Guorong, who has started to walk on two legs of domestic and foreign trade through cross-border e-commerce since November 1, has achieved the forefront of yoga clothing subdivision in the field of domestic trade wholesale, and now accounts for about 3% of foreign trade, and plans to let foreign trade business surpass domestic trade in 2022, accounting for 11%.

In Liu Mingyang's feelings, the change of overseas customers is similar to the transformation trend of China's digitalization, "they have also begun to slowly change from traditional large-scale wholesalers to more accustomed to selecting and purchasing on e-commerce platforms, which is the role of the times."

For example, he said, Zara was a big customer they found through Alibaba's international website. In the end, in addition to the strength of its own supply chain, it is inseparable from the accurate and systematic advertising and marketing supported by big data. After three years of the epidemic, he also sensed that customers' willingness to frequently come to China for offline procurement has weakened, so China's foreign trade must pay more attention to digital expression and presentation.

Where are foreign traders looking for increments

Although some enterprises have felt the recovery of foreign trade, it will still take time for the overall export to truly break out or return to the previous high-speed growth.

"Our Yiwu businessmen's perception of foreign trade is that the more obvious rise this year will be until October." Liu Mingyang said that the general procurement season of foreign trade is also March ~ April and September ~ October every year. Due to the late Chinese New Year this year, most of the overseas orders are under March ~ April, so the delivery time is mostly after May.

Zhang Kuo, president of Ali International Station, said at the annual communication meeting on March 3 that the demand data on the international station began to pick up rapidly after February this year, and the online has taken the lead in picking up, but the overall export recovery requires a process, after all, the overseas inventory accumulated earlier is still being consumed. In terms of market confidence, the confidence of non-consumer goods is greater than that of consumer goods, the confidence of FMCG in consumer goods is greater than that of just demand, and products with higher cost performance and innovative differentiation are greater than ordinary products. There are still many opportunities in sub-categories, even in the generally challenging apparel industry, there is a significant recovery in vertical categories such as outdoor and sports.

According to the tracking and monitoring of the General Administration of Customs, the proportion of enterprises with an increase in the amount of new export orders in the first two months has continued to increase. In terms of new kinetic energy, the total export of electric vehicles, lithium batteries and solar cells increased by 15%. Cross-border e-commerce imports and exports increased by 8.10%. In terms of trade diversification, China's imports and exports to countries along the "Belt and Road" increased by more than 3%, and the total imports and exports to other RCEP members increased by more than <>%.

So, from general growth to structured growth, how should foreign traders look for increments this year?

"This year's foreign trade should first change to the market and increase." Zhang Kuo proposed that the incremental space mainly comes from market changes, technological breakthroughs and better integration of data and reality.

From the perspective of different countries and markets, consumption in the European and American markets has begun to recover, while the demand for non-consumer goods such as building materials and machinery and equipment in ASEAN and the Middle East has grown rapidly. Changes in overseas market demand are presenting different industry opportunities on the platform. For example, new hot industries in foreign trade, such as new energy, building materials, machinery, new energy vehicles and their accessories, have maintained rapid growth.

From the perspective of categories, in the consumer goods industry, overseas buyers pursue micro-innovative and multi-functional personalized products while pursuing cost-effective daily necessities. The non-consumer goods industry shows a clear trend in green energy saving and intelligence. "For example, food delivery robots, the cost of a robot is almost a month's monthly salary of a waiter, and the demand in the European and American markets has increased rapidly, and the inquiries on the platform have increased by 39% year-on-year." Zhang Kuo said.

"Foreign trade should also increase in scientific and technological innovation." Zhang Kuo believes that in addition to using technology to enhance the added value of Chinese manufacturing and brands, intelligence and video will itself define the next generation of foreign trade experience. At present, the integration of data and reality has become the standard configuration of foreign trade, and different types of foreign trade merchants can find new business increments through digitalization.

Taking the traditional enterprise Dongfeng Liuqi as an example, Zhang Kuo told First Finance and Economics that they participated in the exhibition in Frankfurt through digital live broadcast, all the spot was sold short at one time, and more agents purchased thousands of automotive products from them, which brought a great shock to the entire group, "I didn't expect that digitalization could have such a big effect, after all, all their paths before were through offline agents to participate in the exhibition." The changes experienced by traditional industry giants will drive more enterprises to participate in the digital transformation of foreign trade.

In Zhang Kuo's view, the challenge of traditional foreign trade manufacturing enterprises to transform cross-border e-commerce must be there, because all the original path dependencies are different, but their advantages are also greater, after all, they have the ability to produce and manufacture, and also have talent reserves, "once you want to start doing this, kinetic energy and innate advantages are huge."

At the regular press conference of the Ministry of Commerce held on March 3, Shu Juting, spokesperson of the Ministry of Commerce, said that at present, China has steadily entered the normalized prevention and control stage of "Class B and B pipe". A large number of overseas customers are eager to come to China to participate in the exhibition and explore the market, and Chinese enterprises are also looking forward to obtaining orders and expanding trade through the exhibition. It is expected that the scale of exhibition activities held in China throughout the year is expected to achieve a significant increase compared with the previous year. In the next step, we will continue to improve policies and measures, innovate and optimize management services, create a good environment for the accelerated recovery and development of the exhibition industry, and promote the high-quality development of the exhibition industry.