Expo sends ‘im­por­tant sig­nal to the world’

China Daily European Weekly - - Cover Story - By AN­DREW MOODY an­drew­moody@chi­nadaily.com.cn

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

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