Trade Sourcing From China via WorldFirst Rises 83% as of September 2023, Driven by Demand From Emerging Markets

  • B2B buyers from Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and Africa sharply increased imports from China via WorldFirst
  • New study finds that emerging market buyers face a host of challenges in international payments

Global buyers who visit the WorldFirst stand at the ongoing Canton Fair in Guangzhou, China, consistently express their top three requirements for international payments: security, speed, and compliance. (Photo: Business Wire)

GUANGZHOU, China--()--WorldFirst, a one-stop global payment and financial services platform for SMEs engaged in cross-border trade, today reported a strong growth in adoption by international buyers who use WorldFirst as their preferred payment and financing solution for sourcing a wide range of competitively-priced, quality goods from China.

In the first nine months of 2023, the import value from China by business-to-business buyers (B2B) via WorldFirst witnessed a remarkable increase of 83% compared to the same period last year. Concurrently, the number of active Chinese B2B suppliers on the WorldFirst platform, who sell goods to international buyers, surged by more than 80% to meet the robust import requirements.

While established economies such as the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom and Singapore continued to be major importers of Chinese goods through the WorldFirst platform, emerging markets, including Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, and Africa, showcased some of the highest rates of import growth. Notably, in the third quarter, the quarter-on-quarter growth rate of import value from Africa, South America and ASEAN countries exceeded 20%, 18%, and 14%, respectively.

Clara Shi, Vice President of Ant Group and CEO of WorldFirst, said, "The significant increase in import activity from emerging markets indicates not only solid consumption demand in these regions, but also a growing preference among buyers for a one-stop platform that can provide fast, low-cost, and secure international payment solutions for global sourcing. This trend is particularly noticeable in their sourcing activities from China." WorldFirst is part of Ant Group.

According to the Report on Payment for Emerging Market B2B Trade, a collaborative study conducted by Ebrun and WorldFirst, B2B buyers from emerging markets encounter a number of challenges and risks when it comes to paying their overseas suppliers. The report highlights that the absence of dependable international payment channels often compels these buyers to resort to precarious payment methods. Additionally, the report reveals that the substantial volatility in exchange rates of emerging-market currencies can significantly impact profits.

These challenges underscore the importance of having a reliable international payment solution provider that can effectively address these issues and facilitate B2B trade with emerging markets, said Shi. “The strong growth in adoption of WorldFirst by emerging-market buyers this year shows that we are on the right track to help solve these challenges, thanks to our robust risk-control and security measures, support for multiple major trade and emerging-market currencies, presence in over 40 global markets and vast supplier network in China,” she added.

WorldFirst data shows that in the first nine months of 2023, the top 10 categories for B2B imports were: home appliances, consumer electronics, apparel, automotive accessories, machinery and electrical equipment, food and beverages, textiles, leather shoes and bags, home decoration materials, and hardware tools. Additionally, electric vehicles, lithium batteries, and solar cells were among the new sought-after Chinese goods on the back of solid demand for renewable energy products.

China continues to maintain its position as a global leader in terms of sourcing destination, offering a diverse range of goods, latest global trade data indicates. A recent WorldFirst-supported study on importing and exporting SMEs in Australia showed that China was one of the top international markets for expansion for Australian SMEs.

About WorldFirst

Through the World Account, WorldFirst is meeting the needs of SMEs engaged in international trade or business, both online via marketplaces or websites, as well as offline to support importers and exporters. This includes global collection (receiving payments), making payments, currency conversion, risk management, and supply chain financing to help WorldFirst customers reduce costs, improve turnover efficiency to generate more revenue and sales, and quickly capture global business opportunities. WorldFirst serves one million customers worldwide and is connected to over 120 marketplaces. WorldFirst was founded in 2004 and joined Ant Group in 2019. To learn more about WorldFirst at