Nation ‘exploring more efficient ways’ to connect markets
Despite the persistence of COVID-19 worldwide, commerce is quite alive in China thanks to the nation’s efforts in fighting the pandemic and reviving the economy. That was demonstrated recently when 120,000 cans of pine nuts from Afghanistan sold out within minutes at the fourth China International Import Expo in Shanghai, which ended on Nov 10.
The pine nuts, along with a dazzling array of imported products from over 10 countries and regions, were sold through a livestream broadcast hosted by e-commerce livestreamer Li Jiaqi and CCTV anchor Wang Bingbing.
The sale of the pine nuts, a portion of the 45 metric tons of the product that arrived at Shanghai from Kabul this month, highlighted the first time that Afghanistan has exported goods to China under the new Taliban-led government.
A record high of around 3,000 businesses from 127 countries and regions participated in this year’s event, reaching tentative agreements worth $70.72 billion, according to the CIIE Bureau. Companies have booked booths for next year’s expo at a faster rate than that of this year.
Industry experts said the results are a result of China’s higher level of opening-up amid the pandemic and global economic slowdown. It also showed vividly how China has facilitated international trade and injected vitality into the world economy.
The Communist Party of China issued a landmark resolution on the major achievements and historical experience of the Party over the past century. The document was adopted at the sixth plenary session of the 19th CPC Central Committee, held in Beijing from Nov 8 to 11.
With continuous progress in reform and opening up, China achieved the historic transformations from a highly centralized planned economy into a socialist market economy brimming with vitality, and from a country that was largely isolated into one that is open to the outside world across the board, the document said.
“Holding of the CIIE demonstrated that China honors its commitment to high-level opening-up and sharing development dividends with others to shore up globalization,” said Zhang Yansheng, chief researcher at the China Center for International Economic Exchanges.
“The world is in urgent need of more trade orders and increased demand to revive the staggering economic recovery, as well as communication to reach consensus and find more effective ways to combat COVID-19 and repair global industrial and supply chains,” Zhang said.
The CIIE is an annual event that focuses on imports and is the first of its kind. This year’s exhibition covered 366,000 square meters, an increase of 6,000 square meters year-on-year.
“In the context of world economic recovery, the significance of the CIIE goes far beyond buying a certain amount of foreign goods and services,” said Aaron Tang, president of Karcher China, a German company that makes and sells cleaning equipment.
“As a major platform for international procurements, investment promotion, cultural exchanges and open cooperation, the CIIE is a creative example that shows how China is exploring more efficient ways to connect domestic and foreign markets and is sharing factors of production and resources with the world,” Tang said.
In a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the fourth CIIE, President Xi Jinping stressed that China will firmly safeguard true multilateralism. The country will also firmly share market opportunities with the rest of the world, promote high-standard opening-up, and uphold the common interests of the world, Xi said.
“The strong growth of China’s economy and its further opening-up undoubtedly help boost the recovery of the global economy and trade,” said Zhao Yao, president of Omron Healthcare China, a large Japanese medical technology company.
“The rapid growth of China’s trade has produced a strong spillover effect in the world, and its continuously deepening reform and opening-up policy will enable China’s economy to maintain a long-term positive trend and thus make a contribution to global economic growth,” Zhao said.
This year’s exhibition was attended by 281 Fortune 500 companies and industry leaders, with 40 joining the CIIE for the first time and 120 taking part in the exhibition for the fourth consecutive year.
The number of companies from the United States also reached a record high compared with the previous three events.
Joe Bao, president of Microsoft China, said, “Microsoft Corp’s new and innovative technology solutions and applications at the CIIE paved the way for what we have planned for the market in the future.”
The US technology conglomerate has been participating in the event for four years. This year, it showcased its digital products in intelligent manufacturing, retail and healthcare.
“Investing in innovations is what Microsoft has been committed to in the Chinese market, so as to promote joint digital advances with our partners and help bring China’s homegrown innovations to the world,” Bao said.
This year also marked the 20th anniversary of China’s accession to the World Trade Organization. Officials said that since joining the WTO in 2001, China has made vigorous efforts to align with and abide by the organization’s rules and open its market.
In the first three quarters of this year, China’s imports totaled nearly $2 trillion, up 32.6 percent year-on-year, setting a record.
In the first half of the year, the country’s international market share in imports increased by 0.7 percentage point year-on-year to 12 percent, contributing 15 percent of the global import increment, according to the World Trade Organization.
At this year’s event, a great many Chinese companies inked strategic deals with foreign exhibitors. The State Development and Investment Corp, for instance, signed import contracts with 19 foreign companies for a record total of $1 billion.
The company purchased commodities including barley, cotton, manganese ore and edible oils from 15 economies including Ukraine, Argentina, Russia, Benin and Uruguay.
In addition, through the CIIE platform, the company signed a total of $3.47 billion in intent-to-purchase agreements with foreign countries over the past four events, covering cotton, oil and mineral resources. Among them, orders with the Belt and Road Initiative markets hit $1.91 billion.
“Despite the rampant COVID-19 pandemic, the company’s trade cooperation with foreign counterparts has expanded to a larger scope and a deeper level,” said Yang Xiaohui, SDIC’s deputy general manager.
The digital economy was a key topic at this year’s CIIE, where many companies showcased their latest technologies or innovative products and services. Omron Healthcare presented the international debut of its latest intelligent health-management terminal, which integrates a display of health data, status analysis and medical information. It is able to connect to blood pressure monitors and blood glucose meters to automatically produce measurement data and generate health analysis reports.
According to Kazunori Tokura, executive vice-president of Omron Healthcare China, the company’s blood pressure monitor has seen over 300 million units sold globally, among which the Chinese market accounted for around 20 percent, the largest single source of sales.
According to the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, a Beijing-based government think tank, China has become a leader in the digital economy, attracting companies from both home and abroad to invest and develop. The market size of the country’s digital economy surged 9.6 percent year-on-year last year, the fastest worldwide.
“China’s digital economy, which is indeed in the fast lane, has become a new growth driver of the country’s economic growth amid the COVID-19 pandemic. It has and will play an important role in driving economic recovery globally,” said Gong Ke, president of the World Federation of Engineering Organizations and executive director of the Chinese Institute for New Generation Artificial Intelligence Development Strategies.
“While data is an important factor for the digital economy, more effort should be made to bridge the digital divide to benefit more user groups. To be specific, we need to improve infrastructure construction and the sharing of computing power from leading companies to smaller ones,” Gong said during an event of the fourth Hongqiao International Economic Forum during the CIIE.