Chinese President and general secretary of the Communist Party of China Xi Jinping, Delivering Keynote Speech of China International Import Expo 2018

Entrepreneurs and scholars expressed confidence in the Chinese market on the first day of the China International Import Expo (CIIE), after the country vowed to build a more open economy through practical measures.

Chinese President Xi Jinping announced the opening of the expo, which is believed to be the world’s first-ever national-level expo focused on imports, on Monday in Shanghai, calling it a “trail-blazing” move in the history of international trade development, the Xinhua News Agency reported Monday.

The CIIE reflects “a major policy for China to push for a new round of high-level opening-up and a major measure for China to take the initiative to open its market to the world,” Xi said in his keynote speech at the opening ceremony, Xinhua reported.

There is every reason to be fully confident in the future of the Chinese economy, Xi said. “China’s economy is truly performing well within the reasonable range, giving us a solid foundation for delivering the development goals for the whole year,” he said.

China’s imported goods and services are estimated to exceed $30 trillion and $10 trillion, respectively, in the next 15 years, Xinhua reported.

Xi said China will speed up the exploration of the building of free trade ports with Chinese characteristics so as to give full play to their role as a pilot ground for reform and opening-up.

China will be quick to put forward policies and institutions for building a free trade port in Hainan in a step-by-step and phased manner, he elaborated.

Li Jun, a senior research fellow at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, told the Global Times on Monday that “China’s attitude toward opening its market and cooperation is particularly precious and necessary to the world’s current economic and trade environment.”

“The CIIE represents China’s higher-level opening-up,” Yang Changyong, a senior research fellow at the National Development and Reform Commission’s Institute for International Economic Research, told the Global Times on Monday.

“It shows that China’s imports will be long-term and large-scale,” Yang said.

Sound business environment

China will make further efforts in five main aspects to broaden its opening-up, Xi said. These include stimulating potential for increased imports, continuously broadening market access, fostering a world-class business environment, exploring new horizons of opening-up and promoting cooperation at bilateral and multilateral levels.

Xi noted that measures announced in April at the BOAO Forum for Asia to relax market access have been implemented, Xinhua reported. China has further simplified its negative list of foreign investment, reduced investment limits and lifted the level of free investment.

China will continue to offer a good environment for foreign companies investing and operating in China, Xi said, adding that firms from all countries are welcome to share opportunities created by China’s development and achieve mutual benefits and win-win results, Xinhua reported.

“By continuing to lower tariffs and relax market access, China is creating an open, convenient, low-cost and highly-efficient business environment,” Li Jun said.

Xi also highlighted the importance of protecting the legal rights of foreign companies in China, particularly intellectual property (IP) rights. The country will enhance the credibility and efficiency of IP examination, and put in place a punitive compensation system to significantly raise the cost for offenders, he said.

By introducing such a system, China will show its determination to protect IP, said Yang. Foreign capital and talent will be more attracted to the country, Yang noted.

Several companies attending the CIIE expressed confidence in the Chinese market when interviewed by the Global Times.

L’Oreal Group Chairman and CEO Jean-Paul Agon told the Global Times on Monday that “We are very pleased to note that during the past years, the Chinese government has promulgated a host of policies aimed at creating a more supportive business environment to better help multinational companies develop in China.”

“President Xi’s message is very encouraging, especially his re-confirmation of China’s unwavering support to foreign companies,” Leon Wang, executive vice president of British pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, told the Global Times on Monday.

China is AstraZeneca’s second largest market globally, Wang said. “President Xi’s speech reinforces AstraZeneca’s confidence in continued investment in China, as well as our efforts to introduce global innovations to the country.”

“We are encouraged to hear China’s plan to further open itself to the world, and push forward more significant steps to build a world-class business environment,” Yin Zheng, executive vice president of French electric company Schneider Electric and president of Schneider Electric China, told the Global Times on Monday.

During the six-day expo, global products, technologies and services providers will gather at the 300,000-square-meter exhibition area of the expo’s main venue, the National Exhibition Convention Center (Shanghai), in search of worldwide buyers and business partners.

A total of 172 countries, regions and international organizations will showcase their services, products and international image at the expo. More than 3,600 companies will hold discussions with over 400,000 potential buyers from China and overseas.

(Xinhua contributed to this story)

(In Association with Global Times)