Major import fair props up trade globalization, shares China’s growth benefits
Published: Nov 03, 2023 09:16 PM Updated: Nov 03, 2023 10:18 PM
Photo:Chen Xia/GT

Photo:Chen Xia/GT

As the global economy faces headwinds in the post-pandemic era, growing anti-globalization and trade protectionism, the 6th China International Import Expo (CIIE) will return to the global scene in its first complete return to in-person exhibitions for the event since the onset of COVID-19, bringing fresh opportunities for global companies and instilling greater confidence in the world economy, company executives attending the event said.

The 6th CIIE has seen record attendance by top government officials and the world's top companies.

Chinese Premier Li Qiang will attend the opening ceremony of the 6th CIIE and the Hongqiao International Economic Forum on Sunday and deliver a keynote speech in Shanghai, the Ministry of Commerce announced on Friday.

The Chinese Premier will be joined by other foreign leaders including Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese - the first Australian prime minister to visit China in seven years - and Cuban Prime Minister Manuel Marrero Cruz, who is on his first visit to China since he took office as prime minister, as well as Prime Minister of Kazakhstan Alikhan Smailov and Prime Minister of Serbia Ana Brnabic.

Experts said that the record-high participation this year embodies China's growing attraction and influence as a huge market and investment destination. The event, which will open on Sunday, further demonstrates China's commitment to sharing its growth opportunities with the world along the Chinese path to modernization.

A total of 289 of the world's top 500 and industry-leading enterprises will be participating in the 6th CIIE, which is scheduled to be held in Shanghai from Sunday to November 10, according to China's Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM).

The world's top 15 vehicle brands, the top 10 industrial electrical companies, the top 10 medical equipment companies, the three major mining giants, the four major grain merchants, and the five major shipping companies have all confirmed their participation, according to the event's organizers.

More than 3,400 exhibitors and 410,000 professional visitors have registered to attend, marking a full return to pre-pandemic levels, according to China's MOFCOM.

"The CIIE is a window into China's economic vibrancy. It helps pump up the world economy and provides an important platform for foreign businesses to tap into China's immense market potential," Wang Wenbin, China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson, told a regular press conference on Friday.

The CIIE epitomizes China's ongoing efforts to advance high-level opening-up, and sends out a strong message of promoting inclusive growth of the world economy, Wang said.

China stands ready to work with all parties to deliver a high-standard, high-quality, and high-level global trade event, create new market, investment and growth opportunities, and build synergy for common development, the spokesperson said.

The sense of excitement could be felt upon arrival at the National Exhibition and Convention Center (Shanghai), which was decorated with flowers. Workers are making final preparations, exhibits are basically in place and volunteers are conducting final rounds of training for the big moment.

The American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Shanghai announced on Thursday that it will co-host the American Food and Agriculture Pavilion with the US Department of Agriculture at the CIIE, marking the first US federal agency's participation in CIIE since its first edition in 2018.

RS Trade House, the Russian export promoting agency, said 66 Russian companies are attending, according to on Thursday.

A total of 500 meetings were planned, double the figure in 2022, the agency said.

Companies are not only attracted by CIIE's role as a platform for showcasing their products, but also its function in actively arranging various potential big customers to contact and negotiate with each other.

Photo:Chen Xia/GT

Photo:Chen Xia/GT

Wide attendance

"The fact that China can host such a large-scale exhibition with 'imports' as the theme is an indication of the scale and development prospects of the Chinese market. That is good news for all foreign companies. Therefore, Lesaffre has always actively participated in the CIIE," Brice-Audren Riché, CEO of global fermentation giant Lesaffre, told the Global Times on Friday.

"With the help of the CIIE, we can spark with like-minded companies, exchange experiences, and discuss cooperation. Such efficiency is incomparable to ordinary trade fairs," Riché said.

"The CIIE will proactively drive China's foreign trade by demonstrating China's unswerving support for economic globalization, efforts in promoting open trade and stabilizing foreign investment. As such, we believe this expo will instill greater confidence in companies on global economic recovery," EY China Chairman Jack Chan told the Global Times on Friday.

In addition to the volumes of intended deals, the CIIE will also constantly exert a positive spillover effect in terms of trade facilitation, industrial upgrade, consumption upgrade and institutional innovation with its display of the world's best products and leading technologies, Chan said.

The 6th CIIE, which is being held just weeks after China successfully held the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, has also drawn record attendance from Belt and Road partner countries to showcase their products and services.

The numbers are telling: out of the 72 national pavilions to be displayed at the 6th CIIE, 64 are from Belt and Road partner countries.

Honduras, which became a Belt and Road partner in June, will send a high-level delegation to the event in the country's first attendance of the CIIE.

"We have a lot of products that we're going to bring to the CIIE, such as red beans, sugar, cigar and coffee, because we've just signed a treaty with China that will allow about 120 Nicaraguan products to enjoy tax-free exports to China," David Diaz Porta, director of operations of China region of LATAM-China Trading Co, told the Global Times on Thursday at the sidelines of the 16th China-Latin America and the Caribbean Business Summit.

"This is Nicaragua's first participation in the CIIE after the bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) was signed and the expectation is high. It is hoped that we can find Chinese buyers at the CIIE," said Porta with excitement.

China and Nicaragua officially signed an FTA on August 31, which will take effect from January 1, 2024.

Photo:Chen Xia/GT

Photo:Chen Xia/GT

Global benefits

Against the backdrop of slowing global trade and investment, the CIIE expo is set to further demonstrate the huge potential of the Chinese market, reassuring global companies and suppliers of their business prospects based on win-win cooperation with China, experts said.

Along with a number of exhibitions held by China in the year end, including the Canton Fair and the China International Supply Chain Expo, the event is set to inject fresh impetus into global trade, they noted.

Cao Heping, an economist at Peking University, told the Global Times on Friday that as China's per capita GDP heads toward the $13,000 mark, China is experiencing "a boom in consumption demand" from a growing middle class consumer base amid a consumption upgrade. In 2022, the figure reached $12,741 at the average annual exchange rate, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

In particular, Cao believes global companies selling tourism-related goods, non-prescriptive drugs and health supplements, tools and household appliances and medical equipment stand in good position to benefit from Chinese consumers' pursuit of better lives and living standards.

"Recent economic indicators have also shown that Chinese consumers' willingness to spend has not been dented by the economic downward pressure, and the CIIE is set to bring pleasant surprises to exhibitors and global companies," Cao said.