Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, enthusiasm for the 3rd China International Import Expo (CIIE) has not dampened.
If anything, CIIE participants are eagerly awaiting the annual event which could open more windows of opportunity for them to weather the crisis.
The 3rd CIIE will be held from Nov 5 to 10 in Shanghai this year.
For Accenture Greater China Chairman Zhu Wei, the consultancy's debut in the 3rd CIIE will come at an opportune time when digitalization has been heralded as the answer to some of the challenges created by the COVID-19 epidemic.
With social distancing driving the global trend of remote networking, Accenture's suite of digital solutions could fit like a glove for many companies.
"The 2020 CIIE is imperative for businesses to embrace cooperation and boost innovation for sustainable development," said Zhu. The company is aiming to become a "digital transformation partner of choice" for enterprises operating in China.
The products that Accenture is bringing to this year's expo include digital applications geared toward smart city and industrial automation that would "help Chinese enterprises build resilience, accelerate innovation, and better serve people's needs in this uncertain period", he said.
Among those looking forward to the expo are New Zealand enterprises, said Huang Yuefeng, economic and commercial counselor at the Chinese embassy to New Zealand.
"Despite the COVID-19 disruption, New Zealand companies are eager to participate in the CIIE this year as they strongly believe it will create more business opportunities and brand exposure for New Zealand products in the global market," Huang said.
France-headquartered L'Oreal Group, which has taken part in the CIIE since its inaugural edition, said the event illustrates China's determination to champion the restoration of business and social order in the world.
"Holding the CIIE as scheduled sends a clear signal to the whole world－a signal that China has recovered from the COVID-19 epidemic," said L'Oreal Group CEO Jean-Paul Agon.
"It also shows China's determination to play a significant role in fueling global development with openness and a spirit of mutual benefit."
Like at the previous two expos, L'Oreal will be presenting over 100 new products at this year's fair. It is also looking to test the waters with innovative beauty technology products for digital-savvy Chinese consumers.
Another exhibition area that is increasing in size at this year's expo is the business section, which will be expanded to 360,000 square meters from 300,000 square meters to cope with increased demand from foreign exhibitors, said Sun Chenghai, deputy-director of the CIIE Bureau.
"The enlarged exhibition demand shows foreign exhibitors' recognition of the strong attraction of the CIIE and the Chinese market," Sun said.
Recent surveys have also indicated that confidence in China remains robust. About 92 percent of the 346 companies polled by the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai said they will remain in the Chinese market, according to the China Business Report 2020 released last month together with consultancy PwC.
"Clearly, it is a question of market size, growth rates and ease of doing business here," said Ker Gibbs, president of the AmCham Shanghai.
"Most of our members are making products and services within the China market and for the China market. It is the market opportunity that is keeping them here."
One such company is US-headquartered pharmaceutical giant MSD, which recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the CIIE Bureau indicating its commitment to participate in the next three editions of the expo.
"We highly value the significance of the CIIE and its development, and MSD will continue to participate in this exciting event for the next three years," said Joseph Romanelli, president of MSD China.