Matchmaking Businesses in China

Local tea company Fort Sanctuary benefited greatly from its participation at the China International Import Expo (CIIE) 2021.

Established in 2013, Fort Sanctuary is a Singapore-based tea company that runs a tea processing facility in Tuas. The company positions itself as a marketer of prestigious teas and its shopfront is based in an upscale showroom at the Esplanade Mall. At Fort Sanctuary, we invented a concept of precise firing procedures which work perfectly with resting and aging of tea leaves in Singapore; we deliver much-improved intensity, richness, vibrancy, texture, and finish in teas,” said Mr. Lau Kiat Boon, Director at Fort Sanctuary.

The China International Import Expo (CIIE) is a national-level world-class expo held annually since 2018 that brings together thousands of Chinese buyers and foreign companies looking to export to China.

In 2022 and 2021, despite ongoing pandemic-related travel restrictions, SBF and Bank of China (BOC) Singapore led a business delegation of over 350 business leaders and executives from 45 Singapore companies to participate in the 4th China International Import Expo (CIIE). It was Singapore’s largest overseas business delegation since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. BOC Singapore has been working with SBF as its Financial Services Partner since the first CIIE in 2018.

A Fruitful Meeting of Minds

A key highlight of Fort Sanctuary’s participation at CIIE was the business matching service hosted by BOC’s Head Office.
BOC is the sole strategic partner of the CIIE, and made arrangements for its corporate clients to meet prospective sellers or business partners during the Expo, so as to facilitate interaction amongst Chinese and foreign companies to explore business opportunities. 

“As an exhibitor, we wanted to be connected to as many business prospects, and as efficiently as possible. BOC seemed to understand our aspirations and linked us up with many partners to help us achieve our goals,” said Mr Lau.

“I remember how each business owner’s eyes lit up after hearing from us. The connection was quite immediate and I think both sides knew we met the right partner. One who appreciated the challenges in the industry the same way as we did, and we agreed that we could help each other by working together.

A Comprehensive Process

BOC employs a multi-step process when it comes to matching businesses at CIIE. In the first step, participants are required to complete an online form on the bank’s Global Matching System (GMS) portal. The information provided includes business background, products or services information and requests for meetings with target companies. The data is used to facilitate accurate matching of businesses.

Participants then send meeting invitations to their target companies through the GMS portal.  After participants meet their potential partners, they can then arrange a field visit to further understand each other’s businesses if they wish.

“With a small domestic market, Singapore companies recognise that internationalisation helps them to grow their business, and China is an important market with immense potential. Participating in CIIE helps companies to explore new business opportunities and boost media exposure for the exhibitors,”

said Mr Cheng Jun, General Manager and Country Head of BOC Singapore.

“The goal of this service is to help more exhibitors achieve CIIE’s objective of turning their exhibits into merchandise and exhibitors becoming investors.”

Since 2018 , SBF and BOC Singapore have led more than 200 Singapore exhibitors to enter the Chinese market. Through BOC’s matching service, over 50 memorandums of understanding (MOUs) were signed between Singapore and Chinese companies across four CIIEs. These collaborations are valued at over RMB 3 billion, covering various industries such as biopharmaceuticals, trade, medical care, environmental protection, and consumer goods.

To complement our physical presence at the Expo, and to make it easier for Singapore companies who are unable to travel to China to showcase their products to Chinese buyers, SBF introduced a digital platform to conduct livestreaming or virtual product showcases for Chinese online buyers. SBF also organises the annual Singapore-China Trade and Investment Forum (SCTIF), a high-level bilateral business platform to foster dialogue and networking opportunities for Singapore companies and professional buyers from China.

“From the feedback we have gathered, Singapore exhibitors are very satisfied with their matches by Bank of China using big data technology. For the onsite matching event, BOC account managers also help clients manually match with companies who didn’t register online,” said Mr Cheng Jun.