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Businesses benefit from Expo stage

FROM self-icing Coke, automobiles of tomorrow to China-made ARJ airplanes, corporate pavilions spanning the D and E zones boast the new technology for a better tomorrow, a trend China needs to adopt in seeking sustainable growth.

The Shanghai Expo, which has broken records on visitors and participants, has accelerated Shanghai's economic upgrading and acts as a better-than-expected playground for dynamic private business to win the hearts of more Chinese consumers and market players, analysts said.

The corporate pavilions are not only there for companies to promote themselves but also to show the business circle's desire and vision to grow more high-tech and more consumer-driven as China is shifting its growth engine from investment and exports to domestic demand.

"Shanghai is improving its economic structure and the Expo is one of the driving forces," said Zuo Xuejin, executive vice president of Shanghai Academy of Social Science. "Thanks to the Expo, the shipping factories and steel-making mills are gone, allowing the fantastic pavilions to rise."

The rising cost of labor and land showed that low-value business just can't hold its ground in Shanghai any more, pushing the city to move up the production chain to seek higher-value business.

"I am sure the site will never return to a site of smoky steel mills but will be home to a new project driven by the services industry," Zuo said.

Shanghai is pursuing growth relying on the advanced manufacturing industry and modern services industries such as the finance and information technology sectors.

Shanghai has the ambition to rise as a global financial and shipping center by 2020, China's cloud computing center and the nation's first city with a 4G network. It is Shanghai's choice, and it is also called amid China's unstoppable urbanization.

China, the world's fastest growing economy, is seeing its rural population dashing to more developed cities like Shanghai and Beijing. In China, the urban population accounts for 46 percent of China's total population. The figure is expected to rise to more than half the total population this year.

A better city doesn't just do good for the local economy, said market analysts.

"Better management of the city is a must to better manage the global economy amid globalization," said Paolo Savona, a professor with Riviste Scientifiche, Unicredit.

While cities are growing bigger as sites of globalization, choices must be made to seek a sustainable growth of urbanization, he said.

Economists said the example of Japan already showcased how the World Expo speeds up the economic updating of a rising economic power.

"Asia has already used Expo to introduce itself to the world," said Glenn B. Maguire, Societe Generale Asia chief economist. "The Shanghai Expo now acts as a launch pad for China to show the world its urbanization."

Private business, which creates 90 percent of jobs in China, put its card on the table to show how spread out but innovative private business can generate growth for the country.

Private business is one of the biggest beneficiaries of the Expo, an industry survey showed.

About 80 percent of private business leaders said they think that the Expo and the Private Enterprises Joint Pavilion helped improve the brand image of China's rising private enterprises, which used to be seen as low-cost and low-tech players, said Ernst & Young in a survey.

"It's quite interesting that the Expo doesn't help a lot in boosting Chinese private enterprises' products sales but does well to improve the industry's image for a long-term sustainable growth," said Terence Ho, an Ernst & Young partner.

About 73 percent of the respondents said the Expo will help them to learn about new management and business ideas and experiences while 71 percent said the event will help strengthen the relationship between companies, the overseas market and government.

Private enterprises in China create more than 60 percent of tax revenue. China's private enterprises, sandwiched between big-capital, big-name state-owned companies and multinational companies, are fighting to move up the production chain for more lucrative and high-technology business.

Ted Ryan

Director of Coca-Cola Museum

Ryan visited the Coca-Cola Pavilion in Shanghai this month to select meaningful collections and Expo souvenirs to be placed in the Shanghai Expo museum, the Coca-Cola Museum in Atlanta, US and Chinese bottlers' museums.

"The Coca-Cola company has always used World Expo to highlight innovation and hopes to create significant and happy memories for China," said Ryan.

More than 1.02 million people have visited the Coca-Cola Pavilion themed "Happiness Factory" in Zone D of the World Expo, according to the pavilion.

Visitors can experience magic refreshments and be inspired by the Arctic cold with SuperChill, a self-icing coke.

At Expo 2010, Coca-Cola exhibited retail equipment with advanced technology including a Freestyle Vending Machine. This sleek touch-screen operated vending machine allows you to select from more than 100 brands.

"I believe the new technology displayed in the Coca-Cola Happiness Factory will lead the beverage industry and beverage equipment development," Ryan said.

Sun Jun

Director of the Private Enterprises Joint Pavilion

The pavilion started as a pure coincidence but ended as a larger-than-life success, Sun said.

At the preparation stage, a multinational company unexpectedly canceled its Expo project, leaving one vacancy for possible bidders. Then 16 private Chinese businessmen considered the opportunity and applied to fill the vacancy.

"It's a destined coincidence. With China's private business so dynamic and booming, it wouldn't be right not to see the involvement of the private business sector," said Sun.

"The Expo turned out to be a better-than-expected platform for Chinese private business to showcase its evolution," Sun said. "One of the biggest resources is the coming together of entrepreneurs."

The pavilion attracted 2.1 million visitors, five percent of which are VIPs such as government officials and entrepreneurs, according to Sun.

The former can offer the necessary support needed for the growth of the sector, while the latter reckon that the sector should form a team rather than fight independently on different frontlines.

A young talent program, entrepreneur training and financing are all listed as post-Expo programs between the Chinese private companies to take advantage of the resources they gained during the exhibition.

Akioka Eiko

Head of the Japanese Industry Pavilion

It's the first time for private Japanese firms to jointly attend an overseas Expo besides Japan's national pavilion.

"It's the best method to showcase the latest technologies and modern lifestyle in the way we understand," said Akioka.

The pavilion is very consumer friendly, with themed theaters and eight major exhibition areas sponsored by Japanese businesses, as well as a Japanese-style restaurant.

During the Shanghai Expo, the combined traffic to the pavilion reached more than 5.54 million by the final week.

It's the place for visitors to consider "the wonderful life in Japan and our understanding of 'better city, better life,", said Akioka.

The highlights of the pavilion include golden toilets, climbing robots and kaiseki-ryori dinner, which costs 3,000 yuan (US$448) per person.

More than 3,000 people have tasted Japanese food in the restaurant, which has been fully booked this week.

In the pavilion, about 500 staff are from China and half of them are students.

"I highly appreciate their work and hope the young contribute more to the China-Japan cultural bridge," said Akioka.

The 21 students, who work in the restaurant, will be invited to Japan in December, according to Akioka.


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