"World's supermarket" sprints to global trade via UEFA Euro-fueled surge

(Xinhua) 08:46, July 10, 2024

HANGZHOU, July 9 (Xinhua) -- As the UEFA European Championship (UEFA Euro) reaches its fever pitch, football enthusiasts worldwide are immersed in the thrill of the game. In Yiwu, east China's Zhejiang Province, businesses are in a whirlwind of activity.

Yiwu, home to the world's largest wholesale market for small commodities, is busy fulfilling restocking orders to ensure their products swiftly land in Europe, satisfying the demands of sports aficionados.

Wen Congjian, a seasoned jersey merchant in Yiwu for over a decade, has seen a surge in orders this year, thanks to the football championship. His jerseys, with their innovative designs, have become a hit. Even before the tournament kicked off, he had shipped over 300,000 jerseys to Europe.

"We've crafted unique jerseys for teams such as France, Germany, Spain, Poland, Türkiye, and Italy," Wen said, adding that the European championship, coupled with the Copa America, has led to a 30-percent year-on-year increase in the company's international trade orders.

The sports consumption craze ignited by the European championship and the upcoming Paris Olympics has prompted global buyers to flock to Yiwu, often dubbed "the world's supermarket," in order to purchase a diverse range of sports goods.

Wu Xiaoming, a football product specialist, is also swamped with dispatching orders. "In my warehouse, there's a container destined for France, and we are expected to deliver the goods of a repeat order from a Spanish client very soon," Wu said.

Yiwu's commodities reach the global market through sea-rail intermodal transport via Ningbo Zhoushan Port and the China-Europe Railway Express.

At Yiwu West railway station's customs supervision zone, officers are meticulously verifying cargo information against declaration forms for containers loaded with badminton rackets, caps, and footballs. These items are part of a shipment set to be exported to Georgia via the China-Europe Railway Express.

Zhou Huawei, head of the second supervision department of Yiwu Customs, explained that smart checkpoints and intelligent surveillance systems have been installed at the Yiwu West railway station, in order to enhance inspection efficiency. Non-intrusive inspections using X-ray scans have streamlined the process, allowing for automatic container entry and inspection without the need for box opening.

Yiwu Customs has also established a special window at Yiwu Port for the European championship, offering targeted guidance to sports-related enterprises. Leveraging the "comprehensive network information platform for market procurement," they've enabled "one-click declaration," with over 99 percent of export goods, purchased via the market, released via computer review almost instantly.

The stable operation of the China-Europe Railway Express has made it a popular choice among exporting companies, leading to an increasing number of sporting goods making their way to Europe via this "steel camel" caravan.

"In the first quarter of this year, sea freight was cheaper than the China-Europe Railway Express. However, with the second quarter's sea freight rate fluctuations, the prices have converged. Currently, the China-Europe Railway Express is our primary mode of transportation," said Bao Yuefei, general manager of Yiwu to Europe Logistics Co., Ltd. The company's transportation volume reached 12,944 TEUs in the first quarter, marking a 17.7-percent increase year on year.

As the Belt and Road Initiative progresses, land route trade logistics costs between China and Europe are expected to further decrease, creating a virtuous cycle that better facilitates Yiwu's global buying and selling, Bao added.

Moreover, the rapid growth of cross-border e-commerce platforms has become a vital conduit for Yiwu's small commodities to go global.

AliExpress, an official partner of the European championship, in collaboration with another logistics service provider, Cainiao, has launched a European championship special line, establishing an integrated European special warehouse in Dongguan, south China's Guangdong Province, to streamline the shipping process to achieve "global delivery within five days."

Data from AliExpress and Cainiao reveal that football product sales on AliExpress in May surged by 80 percent year on year, with Spain and France being the top football sales countries during the period. The volume of packages shipped from Cainiao's cross-border warehouses to Europe grew by over 300 percent during the period compared to the same period of the previous year.

Yiwu Customs data show that in the first five months of this year, Yiwu's exports of sports equipment and devices totaled 4.1 billion yuan (about 575 million U.S. dollars), up 44.4 percent year on year.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Liang Jun)


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