SHANGHAI. — Entering its fifth edition this year, the China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai has become a vital platform for promoting trade, investment and global cooperation, and a “golden gate” to the vast Chinese market.
This year’s expo gathered 145 countries, regions and international organisations. Enterprises from 127 countries and regions were involved in the event, including those from all the member states of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership — the world’s largest free trade deal yet.
A total of US$73.52 billion worth of tentative deals were reached for one-year purchases of goods and services at the fifth CIIE, which concluded Thursday, up 3.9 percent year-on-year.
As a creation of Chinese President Xi Jinping, the CIIE is the world’s first import expo held at the national level.
President Xi has personally planned, proposed, deployed and promoted the expo. For five consecutive years, President Xi’s speeches and remarks have signalled to the world that China will become more open.
“Five years ago, I announced the decision to hold the CIIE for the very purpose of expanding China’s opening-up and turning our enormous market into enormous opportunities for the world. Today, the CIIE has become a showcase of China’s new development paradigm, a platform for high-standard opening-up, and a public good for the whole world,” President Xi said Friday at the opening ceremony of the fifth CIIE.
In his keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the first CIIE in 2018, President Xi said the expo is “an important decision made by China to pursue a new round of high-level opening-up, and is China’s major initiative to still widen market access to the rest of the world.”
President Xi’s leading role helped steer the very first CIIE to great success. Over 3 600 global enterprises participated in the first expo, reaching intended deals worth 57.8 billion dollars.
Over the past five years, President Xi, through each expo, restated China’s commitment to opening-up. Amid the headwinds of resurging unilateralism, protectionism, and the COVID-19 pandemic, the import expo has become a banner of China’s unswerving efforts to open up.
The CIIE has seen President Xi announce a series of concrete actions, including advancing the construction of pilot free trade zones (FTZs) and the Hainan Free Trade Port, continuously trimming the negative lists for foreign investment, and expanding the opening of telecommunications, healthcare and other services.
Since China’s first pilot FTZ negative list for foreign investment was implemented in 2013, the number of items on the list has been cut from 190 to 27.
At the opening ceremony of the fifth CIIE, President Xi said that China would work with all countries and all parties to share opportunities in its vast market, from its institutional opening-up, and from deepened international cooperation.
Compared with opening-up based on the flow of goods and production factors, institutional opening-up is of a higher level and greater intensity, and will have more impact, according to analysts. By aligning with high-standard international economic and trade rules, China is firmly committed to high-standard opening-up.
“The government here has been very proactive. It has both favourable policies in terms of taxation subsidies, and getting the right infrastructure. So all the government side of things were very, very smooth,” said Julian Blissett, General Motors (GM) executive vice president and president of GM China, a five-time CIIE exhibitor.
The Durant Guild, GM’s premium import and lifestyle platform freshly launched in September, debuted its first model to be imported to the Chinese market at the fifth CIIE. The brand-new service, in Blissett’s words, was “born” from the CIIE.
In today’s world, confronted with accelerated changes unseen in a century and a sluggish economic recovery, the five consecutive editions of the CIIE have brought sustained positive momentum to the global economy.
The expo has promoted extensive matchmaking between exhibitors and buyers, strengthened the confidence of foreign investors, and bolstered economic and social development. — Xinhua