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Expo shows resolve to widen opening-up

By Yao Yuxin | China Daily | Updated: 2018-11-08 07:50
John Denton, secretary general of the International Chamber of Commerce, speaks at the Trade and Opening parallel session on the sidelines of the China International Import Expo in Shanghai on Monday. [Photo by Zhu Xingxin/China Daily]

Editor's note: How will the ongoing China International Import Expo in Shanghai affect China's trade pattern and why it symbolizes further opening-up? Two experts share their views on the issue with China Daily's Yao Yuxin. Excerpts follow:

Expo expected to help restructure economy

Sang Baichuan, director of the Institute of International Business at the University of International Business and Economics

This year marks the 40th anniversary of reform and opening-up, which have brought significant benefits to China, regardless of the change in the global business environment. China is committed to further opening up to the world, and the expo will help it fulfill a large part of this commitment.

The "America first" strategy of the United States, marked by its unilateral and protectionist policies, has disrupted global economic activities. In contrast, as the world's second-largest economy, China has been trying to boost the world's confidence by proactively defending economic globalization and the multilateral trade system.

China has been the world's largest exporter for years; but it has also been the world's second-largest importer for eight consecutive years. And instead of pursuing trade surplus with its trade partners, it has tried to maintain a trade balance, by further expanding imports and thus providing more opportunities for other countries to increase their exports and vitalize the world economy. Which is in accordance with China's efforts to build a community with a shared future for mankind.

Some fear higher imports mean more severe competition for Chinese enterprises, which could harm China's economic growth. This is a misunderstanding.

If the expanded imports include high-tech and high-quality products, which are in short supply in China, they can narrow the supply gap and help meet domestic consumers' demands for luxury and fashion goods while promoting a greener consumption pattern, which in turn will promote consumption and boost the economy.

Besides, the resulting competition will put pressure on domestic enterprises to improve the quality of their products to survive in the market, which is expected to accelerate supply-side structural reform and upgrade the economic structure.

The expo offers foreign companies a platform to showcase their commodities and directly connect sellers with buyers, reducing their transaction costs and promoting imports. But the expo is just a start; the import volume will depend also on tariff reduction, a favorable trade environment and actual domestic consumption.

Import fair to yield concrete economic fruits

Zhang Monan, a researcher at the China Center for International Economic Exchanges

With the focus on the trade frictions triggered by the US, the fact that China is the world's second-largest importer is often neglected. Actually, China's imports have grown at a faster pace than its exports in recent years. That China is holding the import expo despite this fact shows it is willing to continue to open up its markets to the world.

China's resolution to pursue opening-up on all fronts is not empty talk, but an effective package of policies and actions. Apart from holding the expo, China has given greater access to foreign enterprises in the financial and services sectors, and high-end manufacturing including the auto industry, which will expedite the process of enacting laws to further strengthen intellectual property rights protection.

Expanding imports will not only boost economic growth but also deepen reform and opening-up, allowing Chinese enterprises to more confidently compete in the global markets and gradually integrate with the global high-end industrial chains. And Chinese consumers will surely benefit from the upgrading, as they will have easier access to high-end products.

China's market of more than 1.3 billion consumers is attractive for global businesses as reflected in more than 3,600 enterprises from across the world taking part in the expo.

Many Western governments have not sent their representatives to the expo, showing their wait-and-see approach-which they had also adopted toward the Belt and Road Initiative when it was proposed in 2013.

But the participation of a large number of enterprises from those countries in the expo shows the expo will yield concrete economic fruits. And aside from commodities trading, the expo will also demonstrate China's determination to intensify market-oriented reform and opening-up.

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