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Fair more international than ever

By Zhang Haizhou and Sun Li in Xiamen, Fujian province ( China Daily )

Updated: 2013-09-09

With 670 delegations from 110 countries and regions, this year's China International Fair for Investment and Trade is more international than in years past.

The number of foreign delegates attending the 17th installment of the global trade fair more than doubled the amount last year.

This year also marks the first time that a foreign country has been designated as the "guest of honor".

As the number of foreign participants steadily rises, the CIFIT continues to transform from a conduit for bilateral trade between China and individual nations into an international event at which enterprises from around the world can exchange ideas and do business.

Exhibitors say they come not only out of interest in China but also to seek out opportunities in the wider world.

Nondumiso Pikashe, of the South African Ses'ifikile Wines company, has been to China three times, but this is her first time to attend the CIFIT in Xiamen.

By exhibiting selections of red and white wine from her home country, Pikashe hopes the fair can help her company access the Asian market.

"Because the CIFIT is international, I also hope to find someone from Japan," she said, adding that she is not limiting her focus to China.

Ses'fikile means "we have arrived" in Pikashe's local language.

The three words represent personal and communal struggle, yet they also contain a positive outlook for the future. Pikashe said the name embodies her hope for Asia.

This year's "guest of honor", South Africa has a total of 62 exhibitors from various sectors, including wine, food and beverage producers as well as florists and investment bodies.

Making the fair truly international has long been an ambition of the organizers, who said the 17th CIFIT is "poised to be a world investment convention".

The United States is sending its largest delegation ever to this year's CIFIT. It numbers more than 300 people, including 108 from the Association to Invest in the US.

This year's event marks a milestone, said Harley Seyedin, president of the American Chamber of Commerce South China and a participant in the trade fair since 2002.

"Before 2008, it was totally focused on foreign investors in China, but that has changed now that Chinese companies have greater capabilities to invest overseas," Seyedin said.

"It is not China and the US - not just foreign and China. It is country to country. More than 130 countries are represented here at the CIFIT."

He said the significance of the fair reaches far beyond China and its major trading partners."We have to keep in mind that it is one of the best, the broadest, and the largest platforms in the world," he said.

zhanghaizhou@chinadaily.com.cn and sunli@chinadaily.com.cn

 Fair more international than ever

Holding a golden key, the symbol of the event, Vice-Premier Ma Kai presides over the opening of the 17th CIFIT yesterday. Hu Meidong / China Daily

(China Daily 09/09/2013 page17)

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