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China's first consumer expo in Hainan shows taste for the finer things

From French wine to Japanese makeup, brands find gateway to mainland

The China International Consumer Products Expo in Hainan is supposed to tout export powerhouse China's efforts to increase imports and boost domestic consumption. (Photo by Yusuke Hinata)

HAIKOU, China -- Irish whiskey, premium French sparkling wine and high-end Japanese cosmetics were just some of the luxury products on display at China's inaugural trade fair that highlights a voracious Chinese appetite for imports as it kicked off here Friday. 

About 1,500 companies from 70 countries and regions are showcasing cosmetics, apparel and other products at the China International Consumer Products Expo, with local authorities expecting over 30,000 buyers and industry professionals to attend during its run through Monday.

Held in the shopping destination of Hainan, where even mainland visitors can shop duty free, the event is supposed to tout export powerhouse China's efforts to increase imports and boost domestic consumption. China will share its market with other countries and contribute to a recovery and growth of the global economy, President Xi Jinping said in a message during the expo's opening ceremony on Thursday.

Japanese companies are in attendance, with cosmetics maker Shiseido showing off a skin care brand and health care device maker Omron exhibiting an fast digital thermometer. Luxury goods group LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton is presenting premium sparkling wine made of Chinese grapes.

A representative of an Irish whiskey distiller said China already accounts for half of its sales.

Seeking to bring in more tourists from the mainland, Hainan raised the annual duty free spending cap for Chinese travelers to 100,000 yuan ($15,538) from 30,000 yuan last July. This fueled a shopping bonanza, with duty free sales on the island doubling on the year to 27.4 billion yuan in 2020 -- and making the island a gateway for international high-end brands seeking to crack the Chinese market.

The southern island province,is set to transform into a free trade port, offering zero tariffs and lower tax rates for foreign businesses under legislation currently being considered. The tropical island has been promoted as destination for domestic shopping sprees.

Beijing appears keen on transforming the island into an international business destination for companies leaving Hong Kong over China's sweeping national security law.

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