Thanks to the rapid development of digital technologies, new forms and models of foreign trade, such as cross-border e-commerce and market procurement exports, have flourished in China in recent years.
China's foreign trade rose 27.1 percent year on year in the first half of this year, a historic high. During this period, the country's cross-border e-commerce imports and exports increased by 28.6 percent, and market procurement exports were up 49.1 percent. In addition, Chinese companies have established more than 1,900 overseas warehouses, a new type of foreign trade infrastructure supporting cross-border e-commerce.
A growing number of entities have been turning to digital transformation to create more possibilities in the sector and expand their space for development.
"It's more convenient for conducting transactions with foreigners," said Liu Shiyun, general manager of Geertop Outdoor Gear Co., Ltd., a foreign trade firm in Dongguan, south China's Guangdong province. The company advertises its tents through social media and short-video platforms, attracting many overseas buyers. According to Liu, the company's annual sales of tents exceeded 100 million yuan (about $15.5 million).
Another example is AliExpress, Chinese e-commerce conglomerate Alibaba's global online retail platform.
During the Singles' Day shopping spree last year, Alibaba broadcast the world's first e-commerce livestreaming session with real-time translation into multiple languages with the help of its AI translation technology co-developed by AliExpress and Alibaba's scientific research arm, Damo Academy.
The AI can translate Chinese into English, Russian, Spanish, and other languages in real-time, allowing Chinese merchants to reach over 1 billion global customers through livestreaming sessions.
The use of digital technologies has enabled AliExpress to accurately match overseas demand and domestic supply chains, thus helping Chinese companies foster competitive growth points, said Wang Mingqiang, general manager of AliExpress.
Li Xingqian, director of the foreign trade department under the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM), told a news briefing on July 12 that new technologies and tools have been optimizing and upgrading China's foreign trade, and online exhibition activities, social e-commerce, crowdfunding for products, and big data-based marketing have become vital digital marketing methods.
China will speed up the in-depth integration of digital technologies and foreign trade and boost new forms and models of foreign trade in the next five years, according to a plan recently issued by MOFCOM.
Industry insiders say that the document will provide greater opportunities for foreign trade companies.
The plan encourages the establishment of digitized warehouses overseas, which will support the continued development of businesses' overseas warehouses, said Wang Mingqiang.
AliExpress has set up over 30 overseas warehouses with a total area of 1 million square meters in 11 countries, drastically reducing logistics times, Wang said, explaining that the company will continue to expand its overseas warehouse network.