An iron and steel company in Lianyungang, Jiangsu province. E-commerce is expected to help steel firms avoid overcapacity and address low profitability concerns.
The China Steel and Iron Association and several industry partners joined hands to set up the Steel E-commerce Research Center on Monday, with an eye on upgrading and transforming the industry reeling from low profits.
The research center, initiated by the China Metallurgical Industry Planning and Research Institute, will conduct preliminary research for steel companies taking the e-commerce route and also provide suggestions to policymakers to help the industry develop in a healthy and regulated manner.
Li Xinchuang, head of the institute, said existing problems for the industry include vicious competition, inaccurate trading data and improper disclosure of customer information, all of which need to be solved and regulated urgently.
According to industry data, there are 178 steel e-commerce trading platforms at present in China, accounting for about 27.6 percent of the domestic online commodity trading platforms.
Last year, steel e-commerce platforms reported total trading volume of more than 60 million metric tons and transaction value of over 200 billion yuan ($32.34 billion), accounting for about 10 percent of the total steel traded in the country.
Wang Changhui, co-founder of Zhaogang.com, one of the leading steel e-commerce platforms in China, said his platform has about 40,000 monthly active users and they have created a huge database that can be used by other steel companies.
"The logistics cost of steel trading in China is much higher than in other countries," he said. "The platform will effectively cut logistics cost for steel traders by reducing intermediate links."
According to Wang, the platform had an average trading volume of about 3 million tons of steel every month. "We will provide reliable storage, processing, logistics and financing services for small steel traders, which will help them survive in the sluggish market," he said.
Nie Linhai, deputy director-general of the department of electronic commerce and information at the Ministry of Commerce, said China's e-commerce sector had embraced rapid growth in the past few years and it is time to consolidate the gains.
"E-commerce transactions have seen a 40 percent year-on-year growth from last year during the first quarter of this year. However, medium and small-scale steel companies still should do proper due diligence before they take the e-commerce route to avoid risks because innovation is easy to talk about but difficult to achieve," Nie said.
Gan Yong, vice-president of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, said taking the e-commerce route will help steel firms avoid the overcapacity situation and address low profitability concerns.
China International Capital Corporation (CICC), the country's top domestic investment bank, has started restructuring into a joint stock limited company, the firm said on Saturday, as it prepares for an IPO later this year.
The first shareholders' meeting of the joint stock limited company was held in Beijing on Friday, the company said in a statement, adding it elected the company's first session board of directors and supervisory committee.
The company said in March it appointed veteran insider Bi Mingjian as its new chief executive.
Alibaba Group Holding Ltd will invest heavily in existing and new ventures abroad, making its push beyond the China market a top priority, the Chinese e-commerce leader's new CEO Daniel Zhang Yong said.
Zhang's comments have come at a time when Alibaba aims to maintain its rapid growth even as the prospect of e-commerce saturation at home looms over the company.
"We must absolutely globalize," Zhang said in his first speech since taking up his new post, according to a report on Thursday on Alibaba's news and commentary website alizila.com.
The vast bulk of Alibaba's revenue comes from its dominant domestic online marketplaces, but the company has been investing in a range of sectors abroad. It announced on Tuesday it would set up a cloud computing base in Dubai, and boosted its stake in US e-retailer Zulily Inc.
Alibaba, which handles more transactions on its platforms than Amazon.com Inc and eBay Inc combined, would continue to invest heavily in new and existing overseas operations, Zhang was quoted as saying. Those included AliExpress, a platform for overseas consumers to buy Chinese goods, and Tmall Global, a marketplace for overseas goods to be sold online in China.
Separately, Alibaba said in a press release e-mailed to the Global Times Thursday that the company has made an investment in express delivery firm Shanghai YTO Express (Logistics) Co together with Yunfeng Capital, a private equity firm partly owned by Jack Ma Yun.
The value of the deal was not disclosed in the press release.
China has become a global hub of LCD display manufacturing as domestic firms will start mass production of liquid crystal panels and overseas giants set up facilities in the country, a research firm said yesterday.
The production of large-size LCD panels in China is estimated to reach a capacity of 232.3 million square meters this year, a 7.3 percent increase over 2014, according to Taiwan-based TrendForce.
"Backed by the huge internal demand, China-based TV brand vendors have secured their dominance over the domestic market and setting their sights abroad," said Boyce Fan, senior research manager for TrendForce.
Major Chinese panel manufacturers BOE Technology Group, China Star Optoelectronics Technology and Nanjing CEC-Panda LCD Technology Co have begun mass production in their latest plants at the start of second quarter.
Aliyun, Alibaba's cloud computing subsidiary, signed a deal to set up a technology joint venture with Dubai-based Meraas on Tuesday, in order to boost big data and cloud computing services in the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA).
The new company, to be headquartered in Dubai, will offer system integration services to help private companies and government institutions in the region to reduce IT spending.
It will build Aliyun's seventh data center, with four others in the Chinese mainland, one in Hong Kong and one in the United States.
Neither company disclosed the investment amount or their separate stake.
The company will offer services for six key pillars including transport, communications, infrastructure, electricity, economic services and urban planning to help transform the emirate into a smart city, said Meraas Chairman Abdulla Al Habbai.
"We strongly believe that the new company will alter the information technology landscape of the region," said Abdulla Al Habbai.
"Dubai's advanced infrastructure and economic strength is a good match for our technology edge, and with Meraas we will be able to provide local entrepreneurs with vital infrastructure that will ignite innovation and help them to succeed," said Jack Ma, Founder and Executive Chairman of the e-commerce giant Alibaba Group.
The Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry in the MENA region is witnessing unprecedented growth. An International Data Corporation (IDC) report anticipates regional ICT spending to surpass 270 billion U.S. dollars in 2015.
Smartphone market in China fell for the first time in six years in the first quarter of this year, with the volume reaching 98.8 million units, a drop of 4.3 percent year-on-year, said a report released by market intelligence firm International Data Corporation (IDC) on Monday.
China's overall mobile phone shipments reached 109.8 million units, a fall of 5.6 percent compared to the previous year, according to the report.
"The key reason for the slowdown is the market saturation. How to attract more consumers is the top priority for future development," said Kitty Fok, director of IDC China.
Statistics from IDC showed that domestic smartphone market saw intense competition in the past five quarters, as the top position witnessed frequent changes with Samsung, Lenovo, Xiaomi, Apple all occupying the spot alternatively. "Some brands experienced major slump in sales this quarter," said Wang Jiping, chief research officer of IDC China.
"Another reason for the decline in overall sales is that customer loyalty isn't what it used to be, and that is why we are seeing so many brands," Wang added.
According to Wang, to compete with Apple's iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, domestic makers are keen on improving their innovation abilities to stimulate consumption. In order to reduce the cost of distribution, some of them have developed new selling methods, such as online sales, physical stores, business to business to consumers (B2B2C), and even crowdfunding.
Tay Xiaohan, Senior Market Analyst with IDC's Asia/Pacific Client Devices Group, told chinadaily.com.cn, that due to the market slowdown in the Chinese mainland, domestic manufactures have accelerated their plans to expand into India and Southeast Asia.
"The golden rule of success is how to depute channels of distribution and build localized marketing strategies," said Tay.
Smartphones that are priced lower than $150 will see more growth, said Tay. The market potential will be realized as more local phone users switch to low-end smartphones.
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