Qingdao FTZ becoming a big draw for Japanese, Korean enterprises

By Xie Chuanjiao in Qingdao| (chinadaily.com.cn )| Updated : 2020-08-31

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The Qingdao-Japan International Business Club is located in the Qingdao International Economic Cooperation Zone in the West Coast New Area. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

Kiyoshi Yoneyama, a Japanese businessman, is preparing for the launch of a new e-commerce shopping mall in Qingdao, Shandong province, with his colleagues these days. The new cross-border $45 million business platform is expected to be officially launched in September.

"We will bring quality made-in-Japan products such as cosmetics and daily necessities to China through this platform and even extend the service in countries and regions involved in Belt and Road Initiative," said Yoneyama, who is in charge of the platform, adding that its yearly revenue is projected to reach about 200 million yuan ($29 million).

The platform is named after "Atom", or "Astro Boy", the first Japanese animation introduced in China in the early 1980s, as Yoneyama aims to make the platform play a bigger role in cultural exchanges between the two Asian countries.

Yoneyama's platform is among the first batches of e-commerce programs in the Qingdao-Japan International Business Club, which was officially unveiled in mid-May.

The club, a new platform specially designed for facilitating the potential Japan-related projects, enterprises and business associations entering the Chinese market-as well as Chinese investment in Japan-is located in the Qingdao International Economic Cooperation Zone in the West Coast New Area.

Currently, the club has introduced 24 Japanese enterprises and is negotiating with 21 others. Seven local governments in Japan expressed their cooperative intentions. More than 10 governmental and financial institutions have established strategic cooperative agreements or long-term working mechanism with the club.


A delegation led by Japanese Ambassador to China Yokoi Yutaka, third from left, visits the Qingdao-Japan International Business Club on Aug 27, 2020. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

The club's boom is a microcosm of what's happening in the Qingdao Area of the China (Shandong) Pilot Free Trade Zone (FTZ) since it was launched a year ago, which aims to be a gateway to Japan and South Korea and connect Shanghai Cooperation Organization-related countries, central and eastern European countries as well as members of Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

The Qingdao Area of the Shandong FTZ has established a special consumption zone, which features commodities from Japan and South Korea and selected brands from around the world.

With help of cutting-edge technologies such as Internet of Things, intelligent devices and big data, consumers are encouraged to enjoy shopping experience at brick-and-mortar stores in the zone and purchase goods online.

Every customer can avail the duty-free policy in a year with the total sum of purchase no more than 26,000 yuan and the single transaction no more than 5,000 yuan.

The trade volume of consumption is expected to reach 50 billion yuan in 2025 from currently 5 billion yuan in the Qingdao Area of the Shandong FTZ, according to the area's working committee.

Inbound tourists from Japan and South Korea number 630,000 arrivals now. The figure is expected to reach 1.4 million in five years, the working committee added.