Over­whelm­ing re­sponse to expo shows im­por­tance of China’s open­ing-up

Global Times US Edition - - FORUM - By Wang Xi­uqiong and Xu Xiao­qing The au­thors are writ­ers with the Xinhua News Agency. opin­[email protected] glob­al­times.com.cn

The world’s first im­port­themed na­tional-level expo will be a con­crete ac­tion to open up China’s mar­ket and cast a firm vote of con­fi­dence in free trade when pro­tec­tion­ism threat­ens global growth.

The China In­ter­na­tional Im­port Expo (CIIE), which is be­ing held in Shang­hai till Novem­ber 10, comes at the right time.

It proves that China means busi­ness in fur­ther pro­mot­ing win-win and bal­anced trade. More than 3,000 com­pa­nies from over 130 coun­tries and re­gions have been brought to the doors of a vast and vi­brant mar­ket, al­ready the world’s sec­ond largest mer­chan­dise im­porter for nine con­sec­u­tive years.

The un­prece­dented fair gives a vivid glimpse of how China is be­com­ing a big­ger buyer of prod­ucts rang­ing from Ethiopian cof­fee, New Zealand av­o­ca­dos and US new en­ergy ve­hi­cles to Ja­panese elec­tronic prod­ucts and a 200-ton Ger­man milling ma­chine.

Bridg­ing sup­pli­ers from all across the world with more than 160,000 buy­ers from over 80,000 do­mes­tic as well as for­eign com­pa­nies, the expo will sub­stan­tially re­duce the in­for­ma­tion and in­sti­tu­tional costs for trade and de­liver tan­gi­ble deals and ben­e­fits for for­eign firms. It sends a re­sound­ing mes­sage: China is se­ri­ous about open­ing its doors wider.

The expo, a brain­child of Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping, is set to be­come a land­mark project in the coun­try’s new round of higher-level open­ing up.

China marks the 40th an­niver­sary of re­form and open­ing up this year. When its econ­omy sees changes amid over­all sta­bil­ity with in­creased down­ward pres­sure, the coun­try’s re­solve to open up be­comes even stronger. Why? One les­son it has learned from its own his­tory is that only an open econ­omy can pros­per.

A more ac­ces­si­ble Chi­nese mar­ket also brings cer­tainty and hope to the trou­bled world econ­omy, of­fer­ing div­i­dends and op­por­tu­ni­ties to all.

The coun­try has cut tar­iffs for an ar­ray of prod­ucts in­clud­ing ve­hi­cles, con­sumer prod- ucts and in­dus­trial goods this year, low­er­ing the over­all tar­iff rate on im­ported goods from 9.8 per­cent last year to 7.5 per­cent. It has also re­laxed for­eign own­er­ship re­stric­tions in such sec­tors as au­to­mo­biles and fi­nan­cial ser­vices.

The im­port expo builds on those ef­forts. It comes at an in­flec­tion point when China shifts from the work­shop of the world to the mar­ket for the world, with the world’s biggest mid­dle-in­come pop­u­la­tion de­mand­ing higher-qual­ity con­sumer prod­ucts.

An over­whelm­ing re­sponse to the expo from for­eign firms tells much about the ap­peal of China’s open­ing up. The booth area for busi­nesses had to be ex­panded twice from the orig­i­nal plan to a size equiv­a­lent to 38 foot­ball pitches. More and more firms have al­ready signed up for the sec­ond CIIE sched­uled next year.

With wide par­tic­i­pa­tion, the im­port expo serves as a global pub­lic good for in­clu­sive growth. Com­pa­nies from all the G20 mem­ber states and 58 coun­tries along the Belt and Road, as well as more than 30 of the world’s 44 least de­vel­oped coun­tries, have sent ex­hibitors to the event. In the com­ing days, Shang­hai will teem with busi­ness and show the world that the trail­blaz­ing expo is not a mere ges­ture.

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