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China Global Trade Expo: UNHCR seeks more cooperation with Chinese suppliers

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, or UNHCR, is one of the organization’s main bodies in terms of purchasing goods and relief. But very little of what it buys comes from Chinese suppliers. The agency is now trying to change all of that through a workshop in Shanghai. CGTN reporter Lin Nan brings us the story.

The UNHCR, or the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, is a UN agency mandated to aid and protect refugees across the world. It purchases 1 billion US dollars worth of goods every year. But Chinese suppliers only account for three percent of the total relief items purchased. A workshop has been organized in Shanghai to improve the situation.

SIVANKA DHANAPALA Representative, UNHCR in China “So we believe that there are very high-quality products that come out of China. We believe that there is competitive pricing. So by having this kind of workshop, we’re trying to ensure that there’s better mutual understanding.”

The workshop took place on Tuesday, just ahead of the third Chinese International Import Expo’s opening this week.

SIVANKA DHANAPALA Representative, UNHCR in China “There’s a great convergence of a large number of suppliers here in Shanghai, also suppliers to the broader UN family. We are 5th among all UN agencies that procure goods from China. We would like to see that increase.”

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the organization has purchased a large volume of personal protective equipment from Chinese companies.

ANGELA HU General Manager of International Business, Medical Department of Xiamen ITG “On the basis of social responsibility, the UN agency procurement is emergency and humanitarian relief. We really wish to participate in this project to recommend high-quality and cost-effective Chinese products to UN organization.”

The UN’s purchases belong to a relative niche market, making it different from traditional international business. Insiders say understanding its rules and procedures is key to getting involved.

LI ZONGPING Executive Deputy General Manager, Peak International Trade “We hope there will be more workshops organized by the UN agencies for Chinese suppliers in the future. We welcome them to visit our factories, and we also want to visit their offices to have face-to-face communication to explore more cooperative opportunities.”

Apart from the main relief items, the agency says it will look into buying more innovative goods and services from Chinese suppliers. One example cited, that could apply to refugees, is solar energy. And Tuesday’s workshop is being touted as the beginning of future cooperation. Lin Nan, CGTN, Shanghai.

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