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China opens wider and shares its development to the world under CIIE

By Sugath Ratnayake (People's Daily Online) 17:41, December 14, 2021

People visit the 4th China International Import Expo (CIIE) in east China's Shanghai, Nov. 5, 2021. (Xinhua/Li Xiang)

The 4th China International Import Expo (CIIE), which took place from Nov. 5 to 10, gave new hope to the world economy and the world business community. This year's expo was held in the backdrop of slow growth in the world economy, which has been hampered by the COVID-19 epidemic for nearly two years. The pandemic has crippled national economies in many countries, disrupted international supplies of goods and services, raised inflation and put people at risk. Also, small- and medium-scale entrepreneurs have faced a continued crisis in running their businesses. Hundreds of thousands more have lost their jobs and livelihoods around the world. Despite this, some countries are struggling with the pandemic and are trying to restore a state of normalcy. In such a global context, it is important to analyze what message CIIE is sending to the world.

CIIE, an attractive platform

The CIIE was first announced at the 2017 Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation. During that time, former American President Donald Trump's "America First Policy" was being vigorously pursued. Protectionism and unilateralism, as well as anti-globalization, have affected the growth of the world economy in various ways. In such a circumstance, the right approach is for all countries to work together to find solutions to crises through openness and cooperation. As the world's second-largest economy, China's decisions are influential to the world economy. Despite the COVID-19 epidemic, the Chinese economy was the only major economy in the world to achieve positive growth last year.

The CIIE has been held four times since 2017, with a gradual increase in the number of exhibitors each year successively. In addition to CIIE, China has made significant contributions to the growth of the global economy through open platforms such as the China International Fair for Trade in Services and the China International Consumer Products Expo. At the same time, China has continued to fulfill its commitment to multilateralism. Throughout, China has sought to share opportunities for development with the wider world. In fact, these platforms are not only just exhibitions, but also great opportunities for market expansion. New technologies are changing the form and substance of trade. Through technical upgrading, traditional agricultural, industrial and service trades have been transformed and efforts have been further directed towards renewed innovation and creativity.

At the 4th CIIE, 422 new products, technologies and services were showcased. This year's exhibition of goods and services covered 366,000 square meters. More than 2,900 entrepreneurs from 127 countries and regions participated. The value of tentative deals reached for purchases of goods and services within the year reached 70.72 billion US dollars. The value of these transactions is very significant given a context where trade around the world has been hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic. From 2018 to 2020, the previous three rounds of the CIIE saw about 201.6 billion US dollars' worth of deals reached for intended purchases of goods and services. The platform has repeatedly made a positive contribution to international trade and has led to further trade expansion.

A special feature of this year's expo is the addition of fancy products, avant-garde consumption concepts and innovative ideas. Another highlight was the presence of 281 Fortune Global 500 companies and industry leaders at this year's expo. Of these, more than 120 have participated in the exhibition four times. Nearly 40 got involved for the first time.The largest space this year was reserved for the consumer goods exhibition. It covered an area of 90,000 square meters. More than 1,200 entrepreneurs from 102 countries participated in the food and agriculture products exhibition area. It was the exhibition area that attracted the largest number of exhibitors. It is also important to note that all 10 of the best carmakers in the world participated in the expo.

The 4th CIIE coincided with nearly 100 different supporting activities. These activities included policy interpretation, joint signing, and investment promotion, having aimed to further promote trade, investment and industrial cooperation. The 4th Hongqiao International Economic Forum was also held simultaneously with the exhibition. The forum focused on green development, the digital economy and new models of consumption.

Opening up and sharing development

The Chinese market continues to attract quality global products. To this end, China is pursuing a broader open policy. These measures include tariff reductions, the further expansion of openness in various sectors through ensuring imports, the active implementation of free trade zone strategies and the adoption of quality regulations for the economy and foreign trade. China has active cooperation with the United Nations, the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, the Group of 20, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and other international institutions. China also deeply engages in international cooperation on green and low-carbon development and the digital economy, and has actively aimed to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement (DEPA). Furthermore, China is meanwhile providing development opportunities and real benefits to the world community through its Belt & Road Initiative.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of China joining the WTO. During the past two decades, the size of China’s economy has grown from being the 6th to the 2nd largest in the world, while its trade in goods shifted from the 6th to the 1st top spot, while its trade in services shifted from 11th to 2nd place. These latest statistics show that China has achieved a great deal of economic success over the past two decades.

Addressing the opening ceremony of the 4th CIIE, Chinese President Xi Jinping said that China will not change in its resolve to open wider and at a high standard, will not change its determination to share development opportunities with the rest of the world and will not change its commitment to an economic globalization that is more open, inclusive, balanced and beneficial for all.

The CIIE opens wider the door for world development. It has added a new impetus to global economic recovery. It has grown into a major platform for international procurement, investment promotion, cultural exchange and open collaboration. Furthermore, it also provides a great platform for businesses around the world to enter the growing Chinese market. It can benefit multinational companies as well as start-ups. This is due to the fact that the Chinese market encompasses a population of 1.4 billion people and a middle-income group of over 400 million consumers. According to the latest WTO figures, Chinese imports accounted for 15 percent of global import growth earlier this year.

Openness, cooperation, multilateralism and collective efforts are needed to address the problems facing the world economy in recent years, which means rejecting unilateralism and protectionism. If not, countries facing economic crises will find their situation deteriorating even further. Countries around the world should work together to overcome these challenges for the well-being of humankind. I am reminded of a well-known proverb in China: "The journey can be difficult when one is traveling alone, but it is easier when people are traveling together." By working together, we can strengthen international cooperation and inject new energy into the world economy.

The author is a lecturer at the Foreign Languages School of Yunnan University, a former consultant for China Media Group, and a senior Sri Lankan journalist.

The opinions expressed in this article reflect those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect those of People's Daily Online. 

(Web editor: Hongyu, Bianji)

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