Trading with China – our outlook and insights

by Lisa Ding, Regional Business Leader Asia

When Twill was launched as a Maersk innovation back in 2017, the first trade lane on our platform was with China. It was an easy decision because our data showed that, in terms of volume, trade with China was the most popular trade lane with our customers and one of the most popular globally.

In our two years working with China, we’ve learnt a thing or two! Here’s some of our key learnings from this great partnership.

The market outlook

In China there is a strong culture of change and disruption in general, as well as a passion for acceleration and innovation. The current view of the Chinese government is towards stabilising the huge growth that it has experienced – and ensuring the country’s maturity compared to other major trading powers like the United States (US).

In terms of trading, we are seeing more sea transportation and a continuing desire for big-volume commodities. For example, in exports, machinery and technology account for almost $900bn annually and elsewhere textiles, clothing and steel bring in over $200bn.

China is a significant importer, accounting for about 10% of total global imports! The main imports mirror the exports, with electronic equipment at $431bn, machinery at over $500bn – but fuel also accounts for over $140bn.

The data we see suggests that emerging markets like Mexico and India are growing in trade with China. The US and European Union (EU) remain China’s main trading partners and intra-Asia trade is significant too.

Regulations & law

At the moment, the rules and regulations for trade in China are largely the same as other major trading nations. There has been a lot of work done, as the economy has grown, to tighten regulations and make the country more sustainable in order to compete with powers like the US and EU.

One example where regulations are tight is foreign currency exchange – which means getting your money in or out of China is not as easy as other countries. This should be considered when looking to work with partners in the country or account for the supply chain.

How laws are interpreted in different regions of China is important as well, especially in a country that’s so big. There is of course an industry standard, but different ports may have different ways of working – so understanding this is key to success.

Luckily for you our Twill customer care teams have this type of knowledge sorted so we can help guide you through the process whenever you need it.

Information travels differently

No matter what country you’re looking to trade with, it’s important to understand how people receive and process information. This is particularly important in China because there is a very different relationship with social media here than there is almost anywhere else in the world.

China doesn’t have traditionally known platforms like Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn for businesses. Instead they have concentrated everything into an all-in-one messaging, social media and mobile payment app – WeChat.

With over one billion active users every month, WeChat accounted for 34% of total mobile data traffic in China last year! Compare this with Facebook which accounted for 14% of traffic in North America.

WeChat concentrates a lot of information about people, therefore your potential customers, in one place. Having a remarkable presence on the platform is therefore quite important for you as a company.

Finding partners

Speaking of partners, at Twill we understand that working with the right people is a key component of any successful business, especially in logistics.

China is a huge and diverse country, so our advice is always to use all the data available to you to find the best partners to suit your needs. Be careful and don’t assume what works for you in your current market will also work in China. For instance, informal meetings usually only happen after a strong relationship has been built and, unlikely other locations, a local presence can increase your sales.

Think you’re ready to trade with China? Would you like to find out more? Contact our team today to get an instant quotation! www.twill.net

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