A major international fair for small and medium-sized enterprises opens today in Guangzhou, capital of South China's Guangdong province.
The 15th China International SME Fair is being held at the Poly World Trade Expo Center from Oct 10 to 13, with nearly 3,020 companies from both home and abroad exhibiting in 6,628 stands.
As many as 668 overseas exhibitors are participating this year from 39 countries, regions and international organizations, including Brazil, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, the United Arab Emirates, the United States and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, to name just a few.
"The fair serves as a platform for all SMEs around the world to strengthen exchanges and cooperation, while rendering them an opportunity to take advantage of China's Belt and Road Initiative and the construction of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area," said Zhong Xuanhui, deputy secretary-general of the Guangdong Provincial Government, at a news conference on Monday.
He highlighted this year's "matchmaking" activities, which are scheduled to bring together some 164 overseas SMEs from countries and regions such as Thailand, Sri Lanka and Nigeria with 322 of their Chinese counterparts to tap future cooperation potential.
UNIDO, which co-hosted last year's event, has agreed to continue doing so until 2022.
"As an international organization, we put our focus on assisting the development of SMEs," said Ma Jian, deputy representative of UNIDO's regional ofice, at the news conference.
"After one year of cooperation, our investigations and studies show the fair is very positive."
Ma said UNIDO is looking to introduce global "best practices, best philosophies and best technologies" to China, while sharing the experience of Chinese SMEs, which has been accumulated over the past 40 years of reform and opening-up, with other countries and regions.
"Our ties with the fair will surely get stronger because our relations have only just entered their second year," he added.
This year also marks the first time an Arab state has co-hosted the fair in the form of the UAE, which is represented by 75 SMEs from a broad range of sectors including agriculture, trade and retail, innovation, technology, hospitality, industry and manufacturing.
"Both the UAE and China have plans that focus on the growth of SMEs, so we need to explore ways to forge stronger partnerships in this vital area," said Majid Khalid al-Mazrouei, a senior official from the UAE Economy Ministry's trade promotion and investment department.
"The China International SME Fair is a major step in this direction, and I am confident that this will be the start of major joint initiatives in the future."
Xiao Yun, an official with the State Administration for Market Regulation, said SMEs are becoming stronger and more active in China.
She cited official figures showing about 103 million registered companies and small private businesses at the end of June - nearly 10 million of which were newly registered, a 12.5 percent year-on-year increase.
In the first half of this year, an average of 18,100 companies registered per day, more than 90 percent of which were SMEs, said Xiao.
SMEs in China have employed about 80 percent of the workforce at some point, she noted, adding that at least 70 percent of them are involved in the service industry, information technologies, culture, scientific research and technological services - providing a key pillar of the nation's economy.