The China International Import Expo (CIIE) has emerged as a critical platform for fostering international trade and dialogue among nations, particularly in the context of expanding South-South cooperation, according to Rebeca Grynspan, Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
Grynspan highlighted the CIIE’s emphasis on balanced trade relationships, emphasizing its significance for numerous countries worldwide. She noted that the expo’s focus on both imports and exports underscores the importance of equitable trade partnerships.
The ongoing Hongqiao International Economic Forum, a key component of the CIIE, underscores the theme of “Joining Hands in Development, Opening Up for the Future.” Grynspan commended this theme, emphasizing that no economy, nation, or society can truly flourish in isolation.
She elaborated that opening up extends beyond eliminating trade barriers or encouraging investment. It encompasses embracing new ideas, fostering cultural exchanges, and creating opportunities for future generations.
Grynspan also emphasized that development is not a zero-sum game; one nation’s success does not necessitate another’s downfall. She expressed hope that the forum would translate this vision into tangible action.
The CIIE has proven to be a valuable platform for foreign companies, including small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), to access and capitalize on China’s vast market. It provides opportunities to comprehend market dynamics, connect with partners, and navigate regulatory requirements in a rapidly evolving landscape.
Grynspan stressed the importance of SMEs benefiting from China’s growth, trade, and market dynamics, given their global economic significance. She noted that SMEs represent 90% of businesses worldwide, 60-70% of employment, and 50% of all gross domestic product (GDP).
Commenting on global trade patterns, Grynspan noted UNCTAD’s estimate of global GDP growth at around 2.4% this year, with global trade growth significantly lower at around 1%. This highlights the ongoing shift in global trade patterns.
Grynspan acknowledged China’s transition from a traditional goods exporter to a more demand-driven, services-led, and digitally powered economy. She asserted that China will remain a major exporter and importer of goods and services in the global economy.
Regarding the post-pandemic recovery, Grynspan noted that while growth remains slower than pre-pandemic levels, China has been a more significant contributor to global demand compared to most developed economies.
She expressed optimism about China’s economic growth, citing the country’s leadership in cutting-edge industries such as battery technology, AI, and electric vehicles. She noted that China’s growth is built on strengths in industrial production, infrastructure and logistics, and technology, making it a dominant player in global trade and value chains.
Grynspan commended the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) for its transformative role in converting the infrastructure crisis into an infrastructure opportunity. She acknowledged the BRI’s provision of much-needed investment in infrastructure and connectivity between and within countries across Asia and beyond.
She also noted the BRI’s facilitation of soft linkages among BRI partner countries through knowledge-sharing and capacity-building. She emphasized UNCTAD’s collaboration with China and BRI partner countries to identify policy experiences in areas such as trade, the digital economy, and mobilizing finance, which were critical components of China’s development success along with infrastructure investment.
Grynspan concluded by expressing her aspirations to strengthen ties with China, understand the country’s evolving economic landscape, and explore avenues for UNCTAD to support China and vice versa in their shared goals for a prosperous and sustainable world.