Fira in China, a market full of possibilities

JULY/SEPTEMBER 2011

09-05-01China is the second largest economy in the world, after the U.S. and ahead of Japan, but it could become the leading power in 2016, according to the forecasts of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). With an average annual growth rate in its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of around 10%, the Asian colossus is opening up a market full of opportunities for large companies and small entrepreneurs who want to work in a country that is shifting from being a low-cost producer towards a giant consumer of goods and services.

A destination for Spanish investors

China is a key area in the expansion plans of Spanish companies. This is also for the trade fair business. In July 2012, Fira de Barcelona will be organising a Construmat show in Beijing, focusing on construction materials from the perspective of quality and sustainability, and this initiative is part of the institution’s new value proposal.

09-05-02Lisa Qu Lengyuan is the Fira’s delegate in China. She helps us to analyse the possibilities of the Chinese market.

What is the state of the trading relationship between Spain and China? 
The commercial relationship between the two countries has greatly increased in recent years. According to official statistics, the volume of bilateral trade was 12 million dollars in 1973, a figure that rose to 3,478 million dollars in 2002, and which is continuing to rise rapidly. In 2009, Spanish exports to China amounted to almost 2,000 million euros. Even though it is only Spain’s fifteenth international market, China is its main export market in Asia and its fourth largest supplier after Germany, France and Italy.

What are the opportunities for business between the two countries? In which economic sectors? 
There are many opportunities, especially in the areas of food, industry, tourism, technology, design… According to figures from Chinese customs, the main products exported from Spain to China are in the nuclear, chemical and machinery sectors, etc. China, meanwhile, exports electrical and mechanical products and materials, clothing, etc. to Spain.

Construmat China will be organised in 2012. How would you assess the project?
It is a very positive step for promoting and exporting Spanish construction products to China. Fira opens up a new market for them outside Spain.

Do you think that China offers great business opportunities for Spanish construction companies? Why?
Yes, there really are a great deal of possibilities. According to an article published in 51BaoGao, after the 2008 financial crisis, the Chinese government invested 400 billion euros in infrastructure, of which 60% was allocated to the construction sector. With the new development plans for the regions of HaiNan, AnHui, ChongQing, HuBei, the construction sector in China will soon receive another major economic boost. Over the next 50 years, urban areas will increase by 76% or more. The Chinese construction industry is also expected to grow by 130% by 2020. In 2018, China will overtake the U.S. as the largest construction market, accounting for 19.1% of the value of sector’s total production worldwide.

¿What advice can you give for Spanish companies when entering the Chinese market?
The first thing is to be very patient. You have to prepare everything you do very well in order to succeed. A great way of finding out the size of the sectors and the supply and demand in the country is to participate in trade fairs. It may be helpful, for example, to have someone who speaks Chinese on your stand to follow up the contacts afterwards. The follow-up and approach work for potential customers is therefore very important, as is finding out about their culture and their buying habits and not disappearing from the market. That is why I recommend not just attending only one fair, but instead taking part in several events to establish a real presence.

What is the image of Fira de Barcelona in China?
I think that Fira has a very good image as an organiser of well structured and efficient events. At the delegation, we work to attract Chinese entrepreneurs to Barcelona, as both visitors and exhibitors, and especially to the most important shows.

MONTSE GARCÍA DUQUE