SHANGHAI, Nov. 10 (Xinhua) -- It was delightfully surprising to see so many people asking for samples and brochures of the exhibits and business cards, Bolivian exporter Mijail Loredo told Xinhua at the National Exhibition and Convention Center in Shanghai, where the first China International Import Expo (CIIE) runs till Saturday.
The manager of AgroExport, a Bolivian company that brought sesame, Chiquitana almond and Chia seeds to the expo, had not expected such a rapid and warm welcome from Chinese buyers.
Marianela Anza, the executive president of Nature Organic Products of Bolivia, shared the same feeling. Her exhibits include fruit and herbal tea, dehydrated kiwis, strawberries and apples.
The tempting aroma of these exhibits attracted so many visitors that the kiosk was constantly crowded throughout the six-day fair, the world's first import-only-themed national-level expo that brought together more than 3,600 exhibitors and over 400,000 buyers.
"Our expectation wasn't very high initially, because, let's be honest, our products are fruit teas, and we thought the Chinese market had been saturated already," Anza said. "But it just turned out to be quite the opposite."
What surprised the Bolivian exporters is simply the reality that China has been shifting its growth to a consumption-driven one.
"A very important fact is that China begins is not only a producer but also a buyer," said Peruvian Minister of Foreign Trade and Tourism Rogers Valencia, who headed his country's delegation to Shanghai.
Serving typical South American seafood dishes like ceviche and Peru-made brandy pisco, Peru's national pavilion at the fair also put on huge posters featuring alpaca and the wool of the South American mammal.
The minister said that Chinese online retail platforms were so attractive that there had been about 200 Peruvian enterprises running their business on these platforms till this year.
After grapes, mangos and shrimps, the quinoa and pomegranate are expected to be the subsequent Peruvian exports to China, according to Valencia.
Uruguayan Foreign Affairs Minister Rodolfo Nin Novoa said his country also wanted to diversify its exports to China, which were mostly agricultural products for the moment. China's imports from Uruguay account for over 25 percent of the Latin American country's total export.
The Uruguayan pavilion, decked in blue and white, also treated their visitors with a lively, rhythmical Candombe dance, listed as the World Cultural Heritage of humanity, while the drum beats and joyful samba music from the Brazilian pavilion were clearly reverberating in the background.
Eliciting partner-interests is as important as signing deals, the exhibitors believed.
Companies were very happy with the ample business opportunities here, so they "wanted to return next year," Costa Rica's Foreign Trade Minister Dyala Jimenez Figueres told Xinhua at the expo.
Anza said that at least five people had shown great interests in being appointed as exclusive distributors for her products in China.
"The Chinese market is so big that you can introduce your products even though it's a small company, probably on a smaller scale, but that's very significant for us," she added.