Global Times: CIIE reaffirms China’s commitment for high-level opening-up, as nation calls countries to work together toward common development

BEIJING, Nov. 8, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — The 6th China International Import Expo (CIIE), the world’s biggest import fair, kicked off in Shanghai on Sunday, with more than 3,400 global exhibitors gathering at the expo.

In his letter sent to the event, Chinese President Xi Jinping said the world’s economic recovery lacks momentum and it requires the solidarity and cooperation of all countries. China will always be an important opportunity for global development, Xi said, according to Xinhua News Agency.

President Xi’s letter underlined China’s unswerving commitment to further opening up its market, said Chinese Premier Li Qiang, who delivered a key note speech at the opening ceremony of the 6th CIIE and the Hongqiao International Economic Forum. 

Over the next five years, China’s imports in goods and services are expected to reach $17 trillion in cumulative terms, Li said, noting that China will continue to promote the greater opening-up of market opportunities.

Li said the country will actively expand imports, promote coordinated development of trade in goods and services, implement negative lists for cross-border service trade, support innovation in foreign trade formats and models, and boost digital trade.

China sincerely hopes that countries around the world will meet each other half way in the grand stage of openness, and be partners for mutual success, said Li.

Warm reception

The stance by the Chinese government on further opening up has been well received by the international organizations and global company executives.

"This expo is a powerful and well established platform, and a symbol of China’s commitment to balance trade relations with the rest of the world, and especially with the developing countries and the small and medium-sized enterprises," Rebeca Grynspan, secretary-general of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), said in her speech at the event. "It is a marketplace of ideas, a confluence of cultures and a starting point for a new paradigm in global action and international cooperation."

"China will continue to play a pivotal role in powering the global economic growth. China has clearly demonstrated its commitment to promoting global development, that is something we hope to continue to play a part in," said Australian mining giant Rio Tinto Chief Executive Jakob Stausholm, according to a statement sent to the Global Times.

"China’s opening-up has brought opportunity to the world, and also ushered in the world’s advanced technology and large volumes of foreign investment to China. Cooperation has promoted the continuous expansion of international exchanges, driven more and newer technological applications to take root in China, and thus promoted social development," German conglomerate Siemens AG said in a statement sent to the Global Times.

"The CIIE is actually very successful for us as a company. Over the years, it has moved from being more of a product promotion to more and more of a very good stage for us to develop with the authorities and present our strategy as a company," Maximilian Foerst, president of ZEISS Greater China, which has attended CIIE six times, told the Global Times in an exclusive interview on Sunday.

Common development

Cao Heping, an economist from Peking University, told the Global Times on Sunday that the CIIE, as a major offline trade expo returning to full strength this year, will help bolster China’s foreign trade.

Based on the achievements of the 134th China Import and Export Fair, or Canton Fair, which churned out higher value of deals than last year, the 6th CIIE is likely to see even more deals, Cao said, noting that Chinese consumers’ willingness to spend has not been dented.

The Canton Fair logged export deals worth $22.3 billion in total signed offline, according to organizers on Saturday.

As China is the major trading partners for more than 140 countries, it is great news for the global economy, Cao said, noting that as Chinese economy recovers from the impact of the pandemic, the gap between exports and imports are expected to narrow further.

China’s matrix of exhibitions, which include the Canton Fair, the CIIE and China International Supply Chain Expo in recent weeks, left a deep impression on foreign company representatives. 

"Exhibitions have become a perfect venue for foreign companies to showcase their products. The Chinese exhibition infrastructure is very advanced in design and tech," Kevin Chen, a manager with Australian honey brand ANB, told the Global Times.

The CIIE enjoys the highest profile among all major Chinese trade fairs in recent years, Hu Qimu, a deputy secretary-general of the digital-real economies integration Forum 50, told the Global Times on Sunday.

The emphasis attached to the CIIE means that the nation is pursuing more balanced growth in both imports and exports, Hu said, noting that China has already gone beyond simply eyeing driving up its exports, even as it still being a major driving force for boosting the economic development.

Rather than engaging in the trade protectionism or "small yard and high fence" strategy, the CIIE serves to showcase China’s welcome attitude toward the inflow of global investment and resources and willingness to share its growth dividends from development.

Official data showed that China’s imports have maintained sound momentum, with import volume expanding quarter by quarter this year. China has been the world’s second-largest import market for 14 consecutive years.

Wang Wen, a professor and executive dean of the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China, told the Global Times on Sunday that that globalization faces severe risks of "ebbing" as the world is experiencing major changes unseen in a century, coupled with the lingering impact of the pandemic.

"The annual holding of the CIIE, with increasingly better results, is something hard to achieve and it demonstrated China’s sincerity in honoring its commitment to the outside world, the attractiveness of China’s consumption market and China’s posture as a civilized country," Wang said. 

A total of 289 of the world’s top 500 and industry-leading enterprises are set to participate in the 6th CIIE, which is scheduled to be held in Shanghai from Sunday to November 10, according to China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM).

More than 3,400 exhibitors and 410,000 professional visitors have registered to attend, marking a full return to pre-pandemic levels, according to China’s MOFCOM.

The 6th CIIE, which is being held just weeks after China successfully hosted the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, has also drawn record attendance from Belt and Road partner countries to showcase their products and services.

According to statistics, the previous five CIIEs have attracted over two million registered visitors, 131 countries and international organizations, and more than 15,000 companies. 

Over 2,000 new products, new technologies and new services were unveiled at previous CIIEs, and close to $350 billion worth of tentative deals were reached.

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