Skip to content

From Hangzhou to the World: landmark expo spurs global digital trade growth


From December 11 to 14, 2022, the first Global Digital Trade Expo was held in Hangzhou, which is a global professional expo and the highest-level national expo themed on digital trade in China.

In ancient times, the Silk Road with China as its core promoted the prosperity of world trade, and its location on the southeast coast of China made Hangzhou, the capital city of Zhejiang Province, naturally became the trade center on the ancient trade route. This city was then famous for its status of a silk production hub.

Into the modern days, the form of world trade has undergone profound changes. The development of digital technology has reshaped the process and efficiency of trade.

Driven by data flow, with modern information network as the carrier and supported by digital platforms, digital trade has become a new form of international trade that is in the ascendance.

Times have changed, but the importance and contribution of China’s Hangzhou to global trade remains pivotal.

The expo focuses on the frontier issues of digital trade industry, platform, ecology, system and regulation. It has highlighted the global development trend and China’s achievements in the field, built a platform for exchanges and cooperation among participants, promoted the formulation of global rules and injected new impetus into the development of global digital trade.

The expo attracted more than 800 leading enterprises from home and abroad, and achieved fruitful results.

The expo saw a number of important results, standards and rules released, and gathered a number of new launches and debut. Meanwhile, 89 projects from the top 500, industry leaders and unicorn enterprises were inked during the event. Their total investment reached roughly 110 billion yuan, mainly covering “Internet +”, new materials, life and health.

This expo is an answer to the call of the times.

Since 2020, due to the impact of COVID-19, industrial chains and supply chains have been frequently disrupted and global trade has been impacted, but the development momentum of digital trade remains strong.

In 2021, the scale of global cross-border digital service trade reached 3,861.08 billion U.S. dollars, up 14.3% year on year, accounting for 63.6% of the total service trade. With the rapid development of digital trade, it has become the consensus of a growing number of countries to promote the formation of common rules.

Therefore, the expo attracted seven international organizations and politicians, scholars and businessmen from more than 50 countries to participate online and offline, and 32 representatives from embassies in China and consulates general in Shanghai attended the event.

The event is also a demonstration of the gathering growth momentum of China’s digital trade.

Despite the global economic downturn, China’s foreign trade has maintained a relatively steady development, with digital trade as a rising contributor.

In 2021, the total value of China’s digital services trade and cross-border e-commerce reached 359.69 billion U.S. dollars and 1.98 trillion yuan, up 22.3% and 15% year on year, respectively. Chinese mobile payment tools such as Weixin and Alipay are being used in more and more countries. China is becoming the most dynamic stage for the development of global digital trade.

Most importantly, this grand event brings together the pioneering work of Hangzhou.

Home to the headquarters of digital economy giants such as Alibaba and NetEase, Hangzhou has always been at the forefront of exploring and promoting the development of digital trade in China and beyond.

In 2015, Hangzhou became China’s first comprehensive pilot zone for cross-border e-commerce. In 2016, the idea of eWTP was formally proposed at the G20 Hangzhou Summit. In 2018, Hangzhou announced to seek to become China’s top city in developing digital economy. In 2020, Hangzhou was included in the pilot project of comprehensively deepening service trade innovation and development, and the Hangzhou section of China (Zhejiang) Free Trade Zone was officially launched.

In recent years, Hangzhou, building on the three national platforms of pilot zone of free trade, cross-border e-commerce and service trade, has made great efforts to promote the establishment of a digital trade development system.

Today, Hangzhou is in full swing in the field of digital trade. In the first three quarters of this year, the trade volume of cross-border e-commerce in Hangzhou totaled 84.94 billion yuan, up 12.6% over one year ago. In the first 10 months of this year, the exports of Hangzhou’s service trade reached 12.918 billion dollars, up 13.13% year on year.

During the expo, Forbes China released the selected Top100 enterprises in global digital trade industry in 2022. Hangzhou-based firms stood out with 13 companies including Alibaba Group, Ant Group and Netease making into the list.

In addition, 37 high-quality development projects of Hangzhou digital free trade zone were signed at the event, with a total investment of 38.2 billion yuan. These high-quality projects will continue to promote Hangzhou to become a source of new technologies, new industries and new business forms of global digital trade.

Hangzhou International Digital Trading Center was also officially inaugurated during the expo, which will further promote the transformation of data resources into production factors. So far, the center has established partnership with 215 enterprises.

Looking forward, Hangzhou will focus on building a digital industry cluster, a digital financial innovation area, a digital logistics pilot zone and a digital regulatory benchmark.

Ten goals including developing a world-class cross-border e-commerce demonstration center, a global cross-border payment highland, a comprehensive development and utilization demonstration highland in data are set so as to provide digital economy rules can be promoted to the rest of the country.

By 2025, Hangzhou seeks to achieve a revenue of over 2 trillion yuan in core industrial enterprises of the digital economy. Digital trade volume might reach 500 billion yuan, and cross-border RMB settlement would hit 1 trillion yuan.

“In the next three years, Hangzhou will further play the role of the main force in building Zhejiang into a global digital trade center, and make every effort to build a digital free trade zone,” said a senior official of Hangzhou Municipal Bureau of Commerce.

Source: Hangzhou Municipal Bureau of Commerce