Chinese small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) B2B exporters are expanding their sales to importers in more countries in order to diversify revenue sources and develop broader opportunities, according to data for Q1 2023 released by Ant Group subsidiary WorldFirst, a leading cross-border digital payments and financial services platform in China and across Asia.
The number of export markets for Chinese SMEs doubled year-on-year in Q1 2023, with some exporters selling to as many as 42 overseas markets. The total trade volume of Chinese SME exporters on the WorldFirst platform grew by 220% year-on-year in Q1 2023, and 70% of the exporters were able to secure orders for two consecutive quarters.
As B2B businesses grow on WorldFirst’s platform, trading with other Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) counterparts — including the ASEAN countries, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and South Korea — rose significantly, with the fastest-growing markets being the Philippines, Laos, and New Zealand.
Through their World Account, WorldFirst customers can open up to 14 local currency accounts online in minutes, enabling them to receive cross-border payments and manage funds. These include B2B traders and SMEs working with 100+ global marketplaces, such as Amazon and AliExpress, all in one convenient online portal.
“SMEs in China and across Asia are adapting to new economic challenges and opportunities with remarkable agility and resilience. As they expand into new, complex markets, traders demand more reliable, hassle-free, and flexible digital financial services. WorldFirst offers a one-stop solution in our World Account feature to meet SMEs’ foreign exchange, collection, payment and more complex fund management needs,” said Clara Shi, Head of WorldFirst and Vice President of Ant Group.
The World Trade Organization estimated the volume of imports into Asia and Africa to grow 2.6% and 5.6% respectively in 2023, despite the overall global trade outlook remaining mixed. Chinese exporters are accelerating their foray into emerging markets, building on the double-digit growth last year in Chinese exports to emerging markets across ASEAN, Africa, and Latin America.
SMEs are the backbone of China’s foreign trade. Private enterprises, mainly comprising SMEs, accounted for 50.9% of the country’s total trade volume in 2022, according to China’s General Administration of Customs. The global pandemic and geopolitical tensions have made it more challenging for Chinese SMEs to do business, but the WorldFirst data shows they are resilient and resourceful. Many are seeking to diversify their customer base and expand into new markets to reduce their reliance on a few major export destinations.
As Chinese SMEs broaden their reach, they are also benefiting from the rapid growth of e-commerce and digital payments across Asia. The WorldFirst platform allows SMEs to conduct cross-border transactions quickly, securely, and at low cost, enabling them to compete with larger companies.