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The 2nd China International Import Expo (CIIE) is open from Nov. 5 to 10 in Shanghai. [Photo by Lun Xiaoxuan/China.org.cn]

Member countries of the European Union (EU) have sent a high-level delegation of senior government and business officials to the ongoing 2nd China International Import Expo (CIIE), vying for further cooperation with the world's second largest economy.

The French President Emmanuel Macron, the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the EU trade commissioner Phil Hogan, as well as ministers of EU member states are heading the delegation, signaling a much larger presence than the previous expo.

According to a statement released by the EU delegation, feedback from participating EU companies shows that a number of companies had increased sales or met new potential buyers after last year's event, and the EU hopes the momentum can continue at the 2nd CIIE.

Wide participation

Compared with last year, EU member states have demonstrated greater enthusiasm and wider participation. France, Italy, Czech and Greece have even been designated as guests of honor at the expo. Among the top 10 biggest national pavilions, EU member states took five, according to China's Ministry of Commerce (MOC).

More than 80 French companies who value the Chinese market and want to seize more opportunities have participated in the expo, said Benoit Guidee, consul general of the General Consulate of France in Shanghai.

Christophe Lecourtier, director general of Business France, said French companies want to share experience and seek cooperation with China in areas like agriculture, environmental protection, innovation and lifestyle.

Meanwhile, the Greek Prime Minister is leading a business delegation of 68 companies representing the most dynamic sectors of the Greek economy, hoping to expand cooperation with China in areas like agriculture, transport, infrastructure, and energy.

There will be more than 120 business discussions between Chinese and Greek companies during the 2019 CIIE, said Greece's Deputy Foreign Minister Kostas Fragogiannis. He expects his country's delegations to have an even more successful trip than at the inaugural event in 2018.

Both the amount as well as the exhibition area of Italian companies have increased compared to the previous expo, with the products displayed varying from automobiles to mechanical equipment, agricultural products and fashion.

From expectations to results

During the first CIIE, 69 French exhibitors inked deals with China worth over $1.55 billion, and this year more cooperation projects are expected to be reached in areas like energy, agriculture, aviation and agri-business.

China is not only a place for innovation, but also an important export base, said Pascale Sourisse, senior executive president at the French company Thales. She expects a huge potential market for the aviation and avionics market and hopes the company's expertise in digitalized and innovative solutions can benefit the country's development.

The growing consumption and the partnership opportunities are the top reasons companies are trading with China, according to an HSBC report called "Navigator: Trading with China" which derives from a recent survey of 1,758 business decision-makers, who represent companies that are currently trading with China (two thirds of the sample) or that intend to start trading with China (one third of the sample) in the next 3-5 years, from 34 markets.

On the first day of this year's expo, multiple cooperation agreements between Italian companies and organizations and Chinese importers were signed in the presence of the Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio, including the introduction of Italian design, fashion and hi-tech brands on China's leading e-commerce giants.

Pharsmart, an Italian health and beauty firm, made its first public appearance in China at the 2nd CIIE. The company is engaging in deep collaboration with Chinese distributors, which will also help them introduce products into the Asian market.

"Through a partnership agreement, Chinese people will soon be able to see our brand on e-commerce sites including Suning and JD.com," said Roberta Arcioli, overseas market director at Pharsmart.

A recent survey released by the Shanghai Chapter of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China revealed that a good proportion of its member countries that attended last year's event would be returning for the second CIIE, and expectations were high for producing more tangible outcomes.

"As EU countries and companies are enthusiastic in participating in the CIIE, we're sure they will be pleased with the results afterwards," said Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang at a briefing on Nov. 4.

Statistics from China Customs show that two-way trade between China and EU reached another record high in 2018 with a total volume of $682.2 billion, up by 10.6%, and the EU remained China's largest trading partner for the 15th consecutive year.