Tianjin uptick reflects consumption recovery

Updated: May 18, 2023 China Daily Print
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TIANJIN — Inside a modern building in the Xiaobailou business district of Tianjin, Tihanyi Istvan from Hungary is explaining the history and tasting methods of Hungarian red wine to dozens of customers at a wine-tasting session.

In 2018, after graduating with a master's degree from Tianjin University, Istvan stayed in the city to start his own business. He took Hungary's distinctive red wine as a starting point for imports and sales, boosting the presence of his nation's products in the Chinese market.

Since the beginning of 2023, his company has seen a significant increase in the number of customers and orders, while more wine-tasting events were held during the first quarter.

Despite the effect of the pandemic, Istvan once again saw unlimited business opportunities from the stable and positive trend of Chinese commodities consumption this year.

"We had a full container of imported red wine recently delivered to Tianjin Port and our business has been very busy this year," said Istvan, general manager of Tianjin Fulin Teya International Trade Co Ltd, who has two orders that are currently being negotiated.

In terms of retail business, the per capita consumption of customers at the store was around 500 yuan ($71.5) before 2023. Starting this year, tens of thousands of consumers have paid a visit to Istvan's store, creating consumption of over 1,000 yuan per capita.

When taking time off from his busy schedule, Istvan loves to walk by the Haihe River and the Ancient Cultural Street, a famous business district in Tianjin.

In July 2021, Tianjin, along with Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing and Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province, was approved to take the lead in conducting the cultivation and construction of international consumption centers in China. Now, the business districts of Tianjin have become platforms connecting global consumer markets, attracting consumers from all over the world.

In Isetan, one of the best-known foreign department stores in Tianjin's century-old Jinjie commercial district, business has steadily soared.

"The mall brings together approximately 400 brands, with a daily customer flow of around 10,000 people on weekdays and more than 20,000 at weekends," said Yang Jie, director and general manager of Tianjin Isetan Co Ltd.

"The boost of foreign shopping malls and China's consumption market have released positive signals for overseas product manufacturers, while also demonstrating the recovery of China's consumer market," Yang said.

Sun Jiannan, director of the Tianjin Commission of Commerce, said that with the implementation of various consumption promotion policies, Tianjin's consumption potential is gradually being unleashed. The city has designated 2023 as the Year of Consumption and will continue to hold a variety of promotional activities.

Tianjin's upbeat performance is just one of the examples reflecting the broader picture of revived consumption in China. According to data from the National Bureau of Statistics, the total retail sales of consumer goods increased by 5.8 percent year-on-year in the first quarter.

During the period, China's foreign trade reached 9.89 trillion yuan, up 4.8 percent year-on-year, reversing a decline of 0.8 percent in the first two months of the year.

The World Trade Organization released a report earlier this month predicting that global trade will increase by 1.7 percent in 2023, up from the previous estimate of 1.0 percent last October. China's adjustment of its COVID-19 measures is a "key factor" in this increase and the reopening of China is expected to boost international trade, the report said.

This year, Istvan's company plans to import Hungarian beer and meat for sale in the Chinese market, expanding its business scope while building a bridge for communication and exchange, attracting more Hungarian enterprises to develop in China.

"With the recovery of international consumption in China, I believe that the company's business will also move forward," he said.


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