Customers from India choose products at a wholesale market in Yiwu, East China's Zhejiang Province. (File photo: VCG)
Yiwu, the world's largest small commodity wholesale market in East China's Zhejiang Province, is facing mounting pressure as inbound travelers need to be quarantined for 14 days and the pandemic is escalating overseas, though the facility has been striving to resume customer traffic through various approaches.
"We had nearly have no new orders in recent days," a local merchant surnamed Zhu, who sells Christmas-related products, told the Global Times on Wednesday.
"Normally there would have been increasing orders from overseas at this time of year, but we only have previous customers contacting us by phone this year," Zhu said.
Though there are increasing visitors from both overseas and home as the nation has seen eased epidemic situation, overall customer traffic is still not satisfying, according to Zhu. He noted that the escalating pandemic overseas has cast a shadow on the market's prospects.
"Trade is one of the sectors that has been hardest hit by the virus," Zhuang Rui, a deputy dean of the University of International Business and Economics' Institute of International Economics in Beijing, told the Global Times on Wednesday.
While China has seen an eased situation in home, it is facing increasing pressure to contain imported infections as most overseas residents appear to have insufficient prevention awareness, Zhuang said.
Yiwu has been striving to attract buyers from across the world to come back on the premise of sound protection measures. A total of 245 foreign buyers from 41 countries and regions came to Yiwu on Monday on a charter flight, of whom most had been in China for over 14 days or had lived in the country for a long time.
Yiwu welcomes the return of 15,000 foreign residents in the city and international buyers from all over the world. Yiwu will pay for flights and offer free accommodation for overseas buyers who travel to the city before March 31, according to local government.
For purchasers who are taking a 14-day self-quarantine and cannot enter the Yiwu market temporarily, Yiwu International Trade City has offered various measures to help buyers including online trading and procurement through a foreign trade company.
Meanwhile merchants in Yiwu are exploring new strategies. Yiwu Jiexiang Commodity, a company that produces ultraviolet-disinfection small household appliances, told the Global Times that the company has been shifting to the domestic market.
"Because of the severe epidemic in China in the past two months, domestic sales of ultraviolet-disinfection appliances rose even during the Spring Festival holidays, when we usually have fewer orders," said a manager surnamed Shen.
More than 40 percent of business owners in Yiwu intend to further expand their domestic market share, said Zhao Wenge, chairman of Zhejiang China Commodities City Group, during a joint press conference on March 11.