Arvind Kumar, is a small town Indian businessman who moved to Mumbai, India’s financial capital a few years ago. He works at his uncle’s electronics shop on the northern edge of the sprawling city. Arvind, is young and ambitious. He doesn’t speak any English and yet manages to go to China several times a year to source equipment for his uncle’s shop. He manages he says by sign language, and because his associate in China, who has been helping them since the past few years knows whats he’s looking for.
There are thousands like Arvind that land up at Yiwu, a city a few hours train ride from Shanghai, that is best described as a humongous mall. The entire city segregated into various aisles, is stocked with goods that leave thousands of Chinese factories. If China is the factory of the world, Yiwu is her supermarket. A buyer can find everything from multiple types of pins to numerous plates, consumer durables to construction machinery and furniture to fart machines. It’s all available in Yiwu.
Indian’s however don’t have pleasant memories of Yiwu, recently both Chinese and Indian authorities issued advisories against doing business in Yiwu after two Indians were caught and manhandled because their company didn’t pay their full dues as promised. Yet, according to recent reports, Indians are the highest importers both in business volumes and the visits by businessmen. About 13,000 foreign businessmen stay in Yiwu and over 40,000 Indian businessmen visited the city last year to buy numerous commodities, mainly household fittings, artificial jewelry, fancy goods, showcase items, Li Zhi Qiang, Vice Director fo the Foreign and Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of Yiwu Municipal People’s Government recently told reporters.
The trade between Yiwu and India last year was estimated to be about US$ 2 billion as almost all the top construction firms in India procure the fittings from Yiwu. “Last year the official exports from here to India touched close to half a billion US dollars and this year promises to be a good year with sharp increase in trade volumes,” Chinese officials said.