Commentary RESEARCH

Connecting the World for a Shared Future

Aria

2024-01-12 03:17

ZHOU LIN
China Today

The first China International Supply Chain Expo provided a perfect platform for strengthening the safety and stability of global industrial and supply chains.  

The first China International Supply Chain Expo (CISCE) themed “connecting the world for a shared future” kicked off in Beijing on November 28, 2023. The world’s first national-level exhibition with supply chains as its theme, the expo was divided into five areas representing five major supply chains and related services – smart vehicles, green agriculture, clean energy, digital technology, and healthy life. It also had a supply chain service exhibition area.

The expo brought together 515 domestic and foreign enterprises and institutions, including 53 Fortune 500 companies. Among them are specialized enterprises that produce new and unique products in some specific fields, hidden champion enterprises, and small and medium-sized enterprises with competitive technologies. More than 200 cooperation agreements and intention agreements with a total value of over RMB 150 billion were signed.

A New Impetus

“The global supply chain is undergoing a restructuring, and China is leading a new model of green transition and development,” Maersk North Asia’s chief representative Jens Eskelund told China Today in Maersk’s booth at the expo. For Maersk, a Denmark-based integrated logistics company, like other Fortune 500 companies and multinationals, the CISCE was a new opportunity for cooperation in new energy and intelligent networking with Chinese and global partners. The expectation was that it would create new impetus for the stability and sustained development of green industrial and supply chains globally.

In July 2023, Maersk debuted its green methanol-powered containership, the first in the world. Green methanol is environmently-friendly and considered as a substitute fuel for ships. “It proves that energy transition is not just a possibility, but has been put into reality,” Eskelund said. “The global logistics industry emits 3.5 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide annually, and the international shipping industry accounts for about three percent of the global carbon dioxide emissions. It is our duty to address the challenge of climate change.”

In the future, he foresees a huge demand for green methanol. “We are confident that China has great potential to become a leading global supplier,” he added. Maersk has signed memorandums of cooperation on green methanol procurement with many Chinese partners. “Maersk is very much looking forward to cooperating with Chinese fuel producers and ports to promote green energy transition. We are optimistic about the future prospects of decarbonization.”

Maersk plans to achieve net zero emissions in all its businesses by 2040 and provide customers with green solutions. Eskelund said China’s dual carbon goal – peaking carbon emissions by 2030 and achieving carbon neutrality by 2060 – is consistent with Maersk’s decarbonization goals. “Green development is a common goal of Maersk and its Chinese partners, which also reflects the common interest of both sides,” he said.

In May 2023, Eskelund was elected president of the EU Chamber of Commerce in China and promised to play a greater role in promoting China-EU ties. He told China Today that climate change is just one of the common challenges that need global collaboration for resolution. “I believe that China and the EU will continue to maintain dialogues and work together to find solutions for all these challenges,” he added.

A Perfect Platform

“Interconnection is our common interest and the reason for us to join in this Expo,” said Máté Pesti, Hungarian ambassador to China, at the opening of the Hungarian pavilion at the CISCE on November 29, 2023. He indicated that interconnection was Hungary’s reason for joining the expo. An example of interconnection was about Chinese battery manufacturer Contemporary Amperex Technology Co., Ltd. (CATL) building a factory in Debrecen in east Hungary. “The project is of great significance to Hungary and will further strengthen Hungary’s position as the center of the European automotive industry,” Pesti said. The 7.34 billion-euro project is expected to become the largest battery factory in Europe. It will be CATL’s second factory in Europe after the first one in Germany.

Hungary has a long history of automobile manufacturing, with developed supporting industries and abundant raw materials. In addition, its location in Central Europe gives it outstanding geographical advantages, which have attracted a large number of vehicle manufacturers. A factory in Hungary enables CATL to respond to customers promptly. China and Hungary have close economic and trade cooperation. Hungary is an important participant in the cooperation mechanism between China and Central and Eastern Europe and is also an active player in the Belt and Road Initiative.

Many other European companies were also looking forward to deepening cooperation with China at the CISCE. On the sidelines of the Global Supply Chain Innovation and Development Forum held together with the CISCE, Tomasz Szypula, president of Poland’s National Federation of Small and Medium Enterprises, talked about the Polish government prioritizing energy transition in view of rocketing energy prices.

The government is paying much attention to energy storage factories, biomass production, and wind power plants, Szypula told China Today in an exclusive interview. “We need to gain energy independence, and clean energy is an important way to reach the goal,” he stressed.

He also said that Polish entrepreneurs hope to deepen cooperation with Chinese companies in clean energy. Poland, the largest energy market in Central Europe, can become a leader in clean energy through cooperation with China.

Szypula sees the CISCE as a perfect platform for promoting and exhibiting new key technologies, products and services in the upstream, midstream, and downstream of global supply chains. “It is also an opportunity to strengthen our ties with the Chinese entrepreneurs, business partners, and agents cooperating with us, and bring the exhibitors which are interested in business expansion in the EU back to Poland,” he added.

Innovative Collaboration

The smart automotive industrial chain was a highlight of the CISCE. Over 80 companies in the upstream, midstream, and downstream of the smart automotive industrial supply chain showcased their cutting-edge technologies and advanced products and services, covering diverse aspects of new-energy vehicle (NEV) manufacturing.

According to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, China exported 995,000 NEVs during the first 10 months of 2023, a year-on-year increase of 99.1 percent. According to the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT), the Chinese automotive industry has established a complete industrial supply chain, with outstanding advantages in new energy, battery technology, and smart operation. This has facilitated the transition of China from a single automobile consumer country to a major exporter of automobile technologies.

At the CISCE, CATL showcased its superfast charging EV battery. Vehicles using it can travel 400 km on a single charge of 10 minutes. The new technology attracted IEE.S.A., a global manufacturer and supplier of advanced sensor technology for automotives headquartered in Luxembourg.

Michael Matthias Olk, business development manager of sales, marketing and innovation at IEE S.A, told China Today that his company was a hidden champion in automotive sensor technology. It has an 18-year-old subsidiary in China that uses production equipment from Europe while the raw materials are purchased in China. “The whole production is a good example of the cooperation between domestic and foreign partners on the global industrial chains,” Olk said.

He gave the example of their car seat sensor VitaSense. If children are locked in the car or have been left there for long due to parents’ negligence, VitaSense can sense their presence and trigger a warning. Olk hopes to explore the possibility of CATL and the IEE cooperating on both the European and Chinese markets.

Data from the expo organizer indicated that one-third of the exhibitors had met more than 10 supply chain partners at the CISCE. Many exhibitors looked forward to strengthening communication with potential partners and translating cooperation intentions into reality.

The exhibition center had an intellectual property and legal services workstation. Sun Mingyan, director of intellectual property at CATL, had personally applied for an invention patent and a trademark registration at the expo. According to him, as a globalized enterprise, CATL’s products and services are available in more than 100 countries and regions worldwide, and an important task of intellectual property is to transform innovation advantages into competitive advantages.

“Intellectual property protection can motivate enterprises in the industrial and supply chains to increase investment in technological innovation, which has a positive effect on the stability of the industrial and supply chains,” said Long Chuanhong, head of the Patent and Trademark Law Office at the CCPIT.

Long added that strengthening intellectual property protection helps to create a market-oriented, legally-based business environment. It plays an important role in attracting foreign-funded enterprises, especially those with core technologies in key areas, to invest and develop in China, and thus contributes to the stability and resilience of the global industrial and supply chains.

 


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2024-01-12 11:18
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