Editor's Note: The second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) will be held in Beijing from April 25th to 27th, 2019. In the six years since its inception, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has had a far-reaching and profound impact on the world. The BRI has played an important role in promoting closer ties between countries, and boosting global growth.
Five young expats from five continents that have been living and working in Guangdong during the past six years gave exclusive interviews to Nanfang Daily and News GD. Below is one of their five stories.
Julio Ruiz Tagle is a Chilean fruit agent in Guangdong. In many ways his Guangdong story began years ago when he read a copy The Travels of Marco Polo, a 13th-century travelogue written about the Italian explorer Marco Polo.
Julio said he was born to deal with fruit. His uncle owns a farm in southern Chile, and he has been familiar with all kinds of fruit trees since childhood. When he grew up, he was admitted into Universidad Mayor, majoring in Agronomy.
Julio stumbled upon a copy of The Travels of Marco Polo in the university library, and it sparked his interest in China.
Chilean cherry [Photo/Nanfang Plus]
In 2012, soon after graduation, Julio visited Guangzhou. He recalled seeing only a few Chileans in Guangzhou at that time, and that Chilean fruits were scarcely seen nor known on the market.
There are no direct flights between China and Chile. Including the transfer, it takes over 30 hours to fly between the two countries. Therefore, most Chilean fruit growers are unfamiliar with the Chinese market.
Julio and his colleagues are examining the cherries. [Photo/Nanfang Plus]
During his trip, Julio spotted a business opportunity. In January 2015, he came back to Guangzhou together with several partners. They became agents, serving Chilean farmers and suppliers as well as fruit importers and dealers in China.
Guangzhou is one of the two major distribution centers in the country and plays an important role in international fruit trade. It seemed the perfect choice for Julio to base his business in Guangzhou.
Julio said, due to the strong market demand, a number of Chilean shipping companies have launched express routes for shipping fruit, reducing the voyage time to less than 20 days.
Julio in Guangzhou [Photo/Nanfang Plus]
In Chile, cherry plantations are highly profitable, and almost all young farmers have learned to speak a little Mandarin, Julio pointed out.
Julio believes e-commerce is continuing to transform the market place, Chilean fruit growers and merchants need to keep pace with consumer demand in China, and using e-commerce platforms will help Chilean products to seize a larger share of the market.
In November 2018, China and Chile signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to jointly advance the construction of the Belt and Road. Julio is optimistic about cooperation between the two countries, and looks forward to more business opportunities.
Julio and his Italian girlfriend [Photo/Nanfang Plus]
Julio met his Italian girlfriend in Guangzhou. "We are planning to get married next year," Julio smiled happily.
Reporters: Gong Chunhui, Hu Liangguang, Hu Suqing
Video & photography: Zheng Yijian, Zhang Ziwang
Video editing: Zhou Xinyu, Li Jiajing (intern)
English version: Monica Liu
English editor: Simon Haywood