Besides attracting more sales of duty-free luxury goods, Hainan Expo is expected to promote investment cooperation between the world and the island, according to officials and businesses.
The first China International Consumer Products Expo is underway in the city of Haikou, south China's Hainan Province, with over 2,600 brands represented. Many of them have unveiled big plans to invest and collaborate with the island of Hainan.
"The expo is expected to make Hainan more popular, especially in terms of attracting overseas and domestic consumers to attend the event in Hainan and buy duty-free goods on Hainan island," Hainan Provincial Governor Feng Fei told CGTN.
Last year, offshore duty-free shops in Hainan raked in over 32 billion yuan (about $4.9 billion) in sales, a year on year increase of 103.7 percent. The inaugural expo has designated an entire pavilion to style and lifestyle, from the most sought makeup to trending perfume.
Meanwhile, the expo is a bridge for suppliers and buyers, according to Feng. "We hope Hainan can become a shopping and fashion hub for duty-free high-end commodities. We hope to lead the trending fashion."
Over half of the participating businesses are from nearly 70 countries and regions, with Switzerland as the event's only guest country of honor. For the inaugural event, the country has brought many well-known brands such as chocolate maker Lindt, Nestle, watchmakers Hublot and Swatch, and army knife maker Victorinox.
"We are very happy with the turnout because we have over 40 Swiss companies participating, 26 are here in the Swiss National Pavilion. Companies are aware of the importance of this fair," Bernardino Regazzoni, ambassador of Switzerland to China told CGTN, further explaining that the Hainan Expo is oriented towards high-end consumer products, which is where Swiss quality comes in – the motto of the national pavilion.
Attracting investors through the exhibitions in the expo is more vital, said Feng.
"The central government has given Hainan more than 110 pieces of beneficial policies. We need to enable global investors, especially leading companies to understand Hainan's investment environment and have good expectations about Hainan," he said.
"We have organized related cities and counties to connect with these enterprises, especially world-leading enterprises. After the expo, we will invite these enterprises to visit our relevant cities and counties to investigate the investment environment and discuss investment cooperation," he added.
Regazzoni agreed that Hainan is not just about buying duty-free luxury goods, but also about vision.
"Pharmaceutical is going to be important for the development of Hainan free trade port. We have a long establishment of Swiss companies in China. We have over 1,000 companies. They are not only aware but also present here," he said.
The Hainan free trade port will likely become the world's biggest duty-free market in the near term if it continues on its current growth curve, according to a report jointly released by KPMG China and The Moodie Davitt Report on the sideline of the ongoing expo on Friday.
Noting that the business environment in Hainan benefits from the country's national strategies, institutional design, and policy supports, the report said its open free trade and offshore duty-free policy have created fertile ground for the development of the retail travel industry.