In a shop stacked with idols of Shiv, Lakshmi and Ganesh, Om Prakash, was looking closely at a tiny pair of Radha and Krishna last week.
“My father told me the new trend in Delhi is to gift small idols of Krishna, Radha or Ganesh with marriage invitations,” Om Prakash said. So, here he was in Yiwu to pick up a container full of them. Originally from New Delhi, the young businessman should know: He’s been coming to Yiwu for the last 12 years – all the way from Buenos Aires where he’s based. “To buy what?” he asks.
“Everything,” he answered himself: “toys, footwear, small bags, traveller’s bags, torches, scissors, socks…” the list was long. “My customers in Argentina love this stuff.”
Yiwu, some 300 km from Shanghai in east China, is the world’s one-stop shop for small commodities. And like Om Prakash, thousands of Indian traders – in fact around 40000 of of them every year – fly in and out of Yiwu to source products ranging from bulbs, soft toys, artificial jewellery, inner wear – the list is long – to cater to markets not only in India but also across the world like in the west Asia, Africa, South America and Europe.
Indian traders do have a range of products: officially, 1.7 mn different products are available in Yiwu in 70000 shops.
Last year the official exports from here to India touched close to $1bn and this year promises to be a good year with rise in trade volumes – it has already risen by a good 37% in the first part of the year.
“India has emerged as the top trading partner for Yiwu,’’ Li Zhi Qiang, Vice Director fo the Foreign and Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of Yiwu Municipal People’s Government said.
“The reason appears to be simple. The items were procured at a fraction of cost due to heavy volumes manufactured and sold here and the profits turned out to be biggest lure for traders from all over the world.”