Yiwu ( traditional Chinese script: Traditional Chinese: 義烏, Simplified Chinese: 义乌; pinyin: Yìwū) is a county-level city in Jinhua County, eastern Zhejiang Province , China . The city, which has experienced rapid growth in recent years, is a famous tourist destination as a retailers’ market.
According to PaulSourcing, Yiwu is called the “supermarket of the world”. Everyday goods produced in the city of Yiwu, in China’s eastern Zhejiang province, are sold in every corner of the world. However, 30 years ago, in the first years of the reform and opening-up policy in China, Yiwu was a poor agricultural county in the middle of Zhejiang province. Yiwu, with its large population, had insufficient resources. The level of economic development was low and the living conditions of the people were backward. Thanks to reform and opening-up practices, Yiwu rose from poverty within 20 years to become the world-renowned “capital” of daily goods. In 2007, the production value in Yiwu reached 4 billion 209 million yuan, the annual income per capita in cities and towns reached 25 thousand yuan, and the annual cash income per capita in villages reached 10 thousand 255 yuan. Yiwu ranks first among China’s county-level cities in various economic indexes.
30 years ago, Yiwu was a small place known by very few people. People living in Yiwu were barely making ends meet. But unlike other parts of the country, the people living here have been involved in trade throughout history. Local villagers would go door to door with baskets of sugar in their spare time. They would sell candy in exchange for chicken or rooster feathers and toothpaste boxes. The chicken and rooster feathers they bought in exchange for sugar were used as fertilizer or they would make dust brushes and sell them. In the first period when the reform and opening-up policy was implemented, the goods economy began to develop in some parts of the country. Yiwu people began to nervously sell the items they made by hand.
Feng Aiqian, who has five children, learned that his neighbors were making money from small amounts of trading, so he started selling daily items in a market in the district. Describing the situation at that time, Ms. Feng said:
“At that time, there were eight people in my family, including my five children, my mother, my wife and me. My wife was earning 20 yuan a month. We were having a hard time making ends meet. To change this situation, I started selling the goods I bought from a factory in the market. Such sales were prohibited at the time.”
Voices asking for permission to make money by selling everyday goods were growing louder among the Yiwu people. Additionally, the local government was also considering developing the regional economy. In 1982, the then Yiwu county administrators boldly decided to allow villagers to do business. Thanks to this land, the Yiwu daily goods market was born. Yiwu economy entered the path of rapid development after that. Li Xuhang, Deputy Mayor of Yiwu Municipality, said:
“Yiwu has very few resources and its land is infertile. It is not advantageous in terms of its geographical location. How can such a place develop? Even thanks to the reform and opening-up policy, the economy could only be developed through small amounts of trade and the hard work of Yiwu people. In 1982, Yiwu Municipality responded to the wishes of the people. “He decided to establish a daily goods market.”
In line with the strategic development goal of “building a city by developing trade”, the Yiwu daily goods market developed in a short time and became an important driving force for the economic development of the Yiwu region. Yiwu people started selling everyday items that people do not pay much attention to, such as paperclips, socks and lighters. In less than 10 years, in 1991, Yiwu market became China’s largest daily goods market.
The current Yiwu daily goods market covers an area of 4 million square meters. 70 thousand merchant families sell more than 400 thousand kinds of goods. Everyday items produced in Yiwu are sold to 215 countries and regions around the world. The goods exported annually reached 500 thousand standard containers. Yiwu has truly become the “supermarket of the world”. In the report titled “China Statistics That Shocked the World” jointly published by the United Nations and the World Bank in 2005, it was stated that the Yiwu market is the world’s largest wholesale market for daily goods.
In 2008, the 30th anniversary of reform and opening-up was celebrated in China. Yiwu has been cited as a pioneer and example of the country’s reform and opening-up initiative. Yiwu Municipality officials say that they aim to make Yiwu a world-renowned international trade city by 2020.