China and Spain join hands to grow economies, expand market presence

March 16 18:10 2023

With China and Spain cultivating fresh momentum to boost their business ties to a new level, the idea of making their investments effective and lucrative has already gathered steam for businesses in both countries, according to industry experts and company executives.

The two countries are expected to expand cooperation in fields including the digital economy, agriculture, auto-related manufacturing and green development in the coming years, so their industries can further complement one another’s strengths.

Marin Orriols, director of the international department of the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce, said Spanish companies are willing to expand their market presence in China and promote exchanges and cooperation in areas such as goods and services trade, investment, culture and response to climate change.

Spain’s total investment in China surpassed $4 billion last month, with more than 790 companies, including Inditex SA and Repsol SA, established in the country. Their businesses are mainly involved in the financial, energy, telecommunications and transportation sectors in China.

Many of them have participated in the China International Import Expo held in Shanghai for five consecutive years, according to China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Bilateral trade between China and Spain has maintained steady growth, showing strong resilience and vitality.

China is currently Spain’s largest trading partner outside the European Union, while Spain is China’s sixth-largest trading partner within the EU, data from China’s General Administration of Customs showed.

The value of trade between the two countries amounted to $51.51 billion in 2022, up 6.5 percent on a yearly basis, according to customs statistics.

Since the two countries had benefited from their complementary trade structure in the past, their strengthening industrial and supply chain coordination and cooperation will generate more opportunities for their businesses and consumers, said Lin Meng, director of the Modern Supply Chain Research Institute, which is part of the Beijing-based Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation.

China and Spain have paid close attention to market needs and made decisions based primarily on economic factors to establish new focus, new trade patterns and cooperation mechanisms, she said.

Chinese tech company Alibaba Group Holding Ltd launched a new e-commerce platform named Miravia in Spain in December 2022 with a goal of seizing greater market share of the local midrange to high-end consumption market.

Miravia is operated independently, and products sold on the platform mainly feature Spanish and other European brands from a wide range of categories, such as beauty, fashion, personal care, electronics, foodstuffs, infant products and healthcare, according to the Chinese company.

“Spain is one of the European markets with the greatest potential in the e-commerce sector. It has a high penetration of internet and mobile technology,” said Yann Fontaine, CEO of Miravia. Fontaine added that the company hopes to cover all the needs of Spanish consumers while offering local and international brands greater tools to sell and engage with their customers.

Zhang Zhouping, a senior analyst of business-to-business and cross-border activities at the Internet Economy Institute, a domestic consultancy, said Alibaba is stepping up efforts to explore overseas markets. The launch of the new e-commerce platform targeting middle and high-income earners in Spain will help the company to learn more about demand from Spanish consumers and better serve the local market.

The latest move is expected to cover different groups of shoppers and serves as a new experiment and business layout for Alibaba, Zhang said.

With Spain being a global powerhouse in the tourism industry and China being a major source of international visitors, tourism will be another major area for China and Spain to deepen economic cooperation this year, said Zhang Yuxin, a researcher at the Institute of Industrial Economics at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing.

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