Sixth CIIE concludes with record high tentative deals of $78.41b
China’s vast market validates its role as growth engine benefiting the world
Published: Nov 10, 2023 09:40 PM
Customers browse goods at booth of Pacific Alpaca Home Textile Group at the CIIE on November 8, 2023. Photo: Chu Daye/GT

Customers browse goods at booth of Pacific Alpaca Home Textile Group at the CIIE on November 8, 2023. Photo: Chu Daye/GT

The Sixth China International Import Expo (CIIE), the world's biggest import fair, wraps up in Shanghai on Friday. The fair, returning in full force since the pandemic for the first time, saw tentative deals worth $78.41 billion signed, 6.74 percent higher than 2022's figure, demonstrating China's vital role in the international market and its unswerving determination to open up its market and share the benefits of its growth with the rest of the world, Chinese analysts said.

The CIIE concludes together with the Double 11 shopping festival this week, with both marking record numbers of sales or volumes, becoming yet another example of China's vast market potential and the benefits it brings to the world.

As the global economy faces headwinds in the post-pandemic era, growing anti-globalization and trade protectionism, China's economic vibrancy will help pump up the world economy and provide an important platform for foreign businesses to tap into China's immense market potential, analysts said. The CIIE sent out a strong message of promoting inclusive growth of the world economy, they noted.

A total of 154 countries, regions and international organizations attended the expo. In total, 3,486 global exhibitors, including 289 of the world's top 500 and industry-leading enterprises and 410,000 professional visitors, attended. The prime ministers of Australia, Cuba, Kazakhstan, Serbia and the first vice president of Iran also came to the fair.

Photo:Li Hao/GT

Photo:Li Hao/GT

This edition of CIIE fulfilled its platform function for international procurement, investment promotion, people-to-people exchanges and open cooperation, and made a positive contribution to creating a new development pattern and promoting world economic development, according to exhibitors and observers.

The expo saw a 40 percent year-on-year rise in the number of small and medium-sized overseas companies attending.

The US, Japan, Australia and South Korea all fielded their largest ever or highest level delegations to the CIIE. 

Sun-Young Shin, chief representative (South China), Korea Int'l Trade Association (KITA), told the Global Times on Friday that representatives from some 230 South Korean companies flew to the CIIE to attend in person this time. Ninety-four were organized by KITA, bringing in food, cosmetics, and plastic surgery-related products 

"Our members have participated in many expos around the world, but they told me that the CIIE is the most impressive, and the highest quality," Shin said. 

"When they return to South Korea, fully convinced about China's consumption power and injected with firsthand confidence in the strength of China's resilient post-COVID economic recovery, I think it will feed positive factors into bilateral ties."

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

Out of the 72 national pavilions on display at the sixth CIIE, 64 of them are from Belt and Road partner countries.

China is not only one of the world's largest consumer markets, but also a significant engine for global economic growth, according to Daniel Aylmer, Managing Director of IHG Greater China. The hotels and resorts group has attended all six editions of CIIE. "The resilience of the Chinese economy and the robust recovery of the culture and tourism market have injected impetus into our own growth," Aylmer said.

Gijs Sanders, head of strategy and planning at UK-based consumer healthcare business Haleon, a spin-off of UK pharmaceutical giant GSK, told the Global Times in an exclusive interview on Friday that the CIIE is a good platform to reach out to a professional audience, to deeply engage with consumers, and to meet peers to exchange ideas.

Once again, the CIIE's combination of offline exhibitions, comprehensive displays and professional audiences proved its unique value.

"CIIE's comprehensive display really meets our needs. If I go abroad to look for suppliers, each trip easily costs 100,000 yuan ($13,711). But coming to Shanghai, the budget is only 10,000 yuan. And I got to meet suppliers of a vast arrange of products, from a wide variety of countries," Alisa Tan, a purchasing manager under the Guangxi Trading Group, told the Global Times. "This is the one-stop shopping platform for us."

Photo:Li Hao/GT

Photo:Li Hao/GT

China opens up wider

As the CIIE epitomized China's ongoing efforts to advance its high-level opening-up, China pledged to do more.

Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao vowed more measures to expand consumption and stabilize foreign trade and investment, including accelerating the roll-out of negative lists for services trade and unveiling more policies on digital trade reform and innovation, in an effort to promote a sustained economic recovery, Xinhua reported on Thursday.

Rather than engaging in trade protectionism or the "small yard and high fence" strategy, the CIIE serves to showcase China's welcoming attitude toward the inflow of global investment and resources and willingness to share its growth dividends from development, Hu Qimu, a deputy secretary-general of the digital-real economies integration Forum 50, told the Global Times.

Jakob Stausholm, CEO of Rio Tinto Group, told the Global Times that through the CIIE, the Chinese government has sent a highly consistent signal, which is very positive for foreign companies doing business in China, where they need a stable business environment.

"We look very favorably in terms of the development of China's business environment and we see continuous opening-up for multinational companies with continued efforts on legislation. All the steps taken are really beneficial for multinational companies to continue to operate successfully in China," Sanders said.

China shares its dividends

China's imports of goods and services are expected to reach $17 trillion in cumulative terms in the next five years, Chinese Premier Li Qiang said at the opening ceremony of the 6th CIIE on November 5.

Analysts said that as China is the top trading partner for more than 140 countries, the country's resilient economic recovery will offer more opportunities to the world, noting that as the Chinese economy recovers from the impact of the pandemic, the gap between exports and imports is expected to narrow further.

This expo is a symbol of China's commitment to balance trade relations with the rest of the world, and especially with developing countries and small and medium-sized enterprises," said Rebeca Grynspan, secretary-general of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. Grynspan also attended the event.

In its latest report, the IMF this week scaled up the projected growth rate of the Chinese economy to 5.4 percent and 4.6 percent for 2023 and 2024 respectively, up by 0.4 percentage points compared with October projections.

China recognizes that the continuity of growth is possible only if the entire world grows together, and sustainability can be reached only if we grow as a society of human beings, Danijel Nikolic, assistant secretary-general of the government of the Republic of Serbia, told the Global Times.

China's High-quality opening-up offers new opportunities Infographic:GT

China's High-quality opening-up offers new opportunities Infographic:GT