Expo sends ‘important signal to the world’
China is sending a signal that it is committed to bringing the best goods and services from around the world by holding an expo dedicated to imports, according to a senior multinational executive.
Rachel Duan, president and CEO of GE China, was speaking ahead of the China International Import Expo, which begins in Shanghai on Nov 5.
“CIIE is the first international expo dedicated to imports, in China and globally. As a country known previously for exports, it is sending an important signal to the world that China is also committed to bringing the best goods and services from all over the world to benefit China and the Chinese people,” she says.
Duan, who is from Shanghai and took up her current role in 2014, presides over one of the largest multinationals operating in China, with annual revenue of $8 billion (7.1 billion euros; £6.3 billion).
It provides expertise in a number of sectors including power generation, renewable energy and healthcare.
Duan believes the expo makes clear that China is committed to globalization, despite the backdrop of trade tensions.
“It also signals that China is committed to further opening up its market and supporting international trade and globalization.”
She says that although GE’s headquarters are in the United States, its business operations depend on markets in the rest of the world, in particular China, which is its largest market outside the US.
“As a global company with two-thirds of its revenue coming from outside the US, GE welcomes and supports the expo and what it represents.”
Duan says GE made clear its backing for the expo by being one of the first companies to sign up as an exhibitor.
The company wants to showcase in particular its advanced manufacturing technology, using big data and analytics, and has been working on the expo for several months.
“(We want to show how this) can meet China’s mega needs in aviation, power and healthcare while supporting China’s industrial transformation,” she says.
Duan, who previously headed GE’s healthcare operation in China, believes this is a major opportunity for her company. GE Healthcare alone has 7,000 employees in China, including 1,000 engineers.
“The rise of the middle class and the increasingly aging population are key drivers for China’s healthcare market demand. This group of people is seeking precision health and high-quality health solutions.”
Duan believes China is right to hold an expo with a focus on imports as the country marks 40 years of reform and opening-up.
“As China transforms its economy from investment and export driven to innovation and consumption-driven, imports will be increasingly important to drive domestic consumption and, in turn, export growth for countries exporting to China.”
Mats Harborn, president of the EU Chamber of Commerce in China, says China’s opening-up should not be seen in terms of holding just one expo event.
“If it is to be symbolic, it needs to be a starting point of something different, signaling that China is serious about being further integrated with the rest of the world,” he says.
Rachel Duan, president and CEO of GE China