Thanks to China’s favorable policies, small business owners in Yiwu, the country’s export hub in eastern Zhejiang province remain optimistic about business prospects, despite the challenges they are currently facing, such as rising ocean freight rates and raw material costs, in addition to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Although there are some difficulties, I believe my company will have a brighter future here with the support of our country,” said Ding Dandan, owner of a shop selling Christmas products at the Yiwu International Trade Mart, the world’s largest small commodity trading hub that boasts more than 70,000 tenants.
Ding, who started her business at the trade mart almost 10 years ago, said that she has benefited from the country’s favorable policies for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), such as tax and rent cuts, over the past two years.
“Not long ago, the trade mart refunded shop owners two months of rent,” Ding noted, adding that it also provided epidemic prevention and control materials such as masks and disinfectants to them.
Ding revealed that she is shipping out most of her Christmas products to overseas customers just like in previous years. Some of her products could not leave for overseas destinations in time due to soaring sea freight prices and a severe shortage of containers for shipments, Ding added, explaining that all of the orders would normally have been shipped by the end of October in the past.
“However, I can rise to the occasion, so do most other merchants in the trade mart,” Ding said.
Luo An, who runs a plastic products shop at the trade mart, has also benefited from the country’s policies. “Tax cuts for my shop surpassed 40,000 yuan (about $6,255.9) per year. Now it’s the third year in a row that I have enjoyed the tax reduction,” Luo said.
“Moreover, I had to pay an annual rent of 200,000 yuan in the past, but now I only need to pay over 50,000 yuan,” Luo said excitedly.
Luo pointed out that although rising raw material costs have squeezed his profit margins this year, tax and rent cuts have offset some of the rising costs.
Meanwhile, the relatively more time-saving and cost-effective Yixin’ou cargo line, a major China-Europe freight train route linking Yiwu with Europe via Xinjiang in northwest China, has become a new option for business owners in Yiwu.
“The Yixin’ou cargo line has played an important role in offsetting the negative impacts of the current global shipping containers shortage,” said Feng Yunhai, business manager with a local trade company.
“The route offers a new option for us. And we tend to deliver our products to Europe through the route,” Luo An said, noting that business owners in the city can ensure steady operation in general.
Yiwu has continuously made institutional innovations and introduced new services, such as launching freight trains for cross-border e-commerce and a “single waybill” mechanism for multimodal transport to relieve foreign trade enterprises’ burdens in settlement and financing, according to an official with the city’s market development committee. So far, the Yixin’ou cargo line has connected 101 places overseas.
According to the statistics from Yiwu customs, the city saw surging Europe-bound freight trains in the first three quarters of this year, with the total import and export value of goods handled by the line hitting 23.96 billion yuan, up by 71.9 percent year-on-year.
Thanks to the local government’s continuous efforts to support the development of foreign trade and improve the business environment, Yiwu has secured robust performance in its foreign trade so far. Customs data also showed that the city’s total value for foreign trade hit 272.69 billion yuan in the first nine months of this year, up by 18 percent from a year ago.