DUBAI // A Chinese city that is home to the world's largest wholesale market for small commodities will hold its first trade fair in the UAE as it strives to make up a shortfall in business brought on by the economic crisis. Yiwu, located about 300km from Shanghai in Zhejiang province, will open the trade fair in Dubai, its biggest trading partner at US$2 billion (Dh7.34bn) last year.
"The leading destination is the UAE, as it has the biggest volume of exports from Yiwu," Zhu Jingyi, the communications director of the organising committee for the China-Yiwu International Commodities Fair, said in Dubai today. "We believe the UAE has a very prosperous future." The city is famous for its small-commodities market - with about 62,000 stalls spread across 400 hectares - and is one of China's wealthiest cities, with a GDP of $7.2bn last year.
The manufacturing and business centre is also home to the biggest Arab population in China. About 100 UAE businesses have a presence there, said Mr Zhu, and it had been dubbed the modern Silk Road between China and the Middle East. Yiwu's worldwide exports, which include jewellery, knitwear and cosmetics, dropped by 9.5 per cent last year, but the city's exports to the UAE fell just 4.2 per cent, said Mr Zhu.
Wholesale market turnover in the first quarter increased by 14.17 per cent to $1.65bn, compared with the first quarter of last year. Trade with the UAE accounted for 10 per cent of this amount, Mr Zhu said. "Dubai and Yiwu have a very important relationship, which we intend to strengthen for the future," he said. Abdul Kodarzi, the management director for the Jalal Ahmed Group, based in Dubai, has been importing goods from Yiwu and exporting them to other countries in the Middle East and North Africa for five years. He said it was Dubai's strategic geographic location, along with numerous ports to facilitate the trade, that drove the large amount of business between the two cities.
The company usually imported about 1,500 containers a year, but cut this back by 20 per cent during the first quarter due to a lack of finance prompted by the economic downturn. However, Mr Kodarzi said he expected trade to improve in the next couple of months. "Now I see in the market the banks starting to finance, which is good news, and business people starting to order again." The China-Yiwu International Commodities Fair runs from June 14 to 16.