World’s first supply chain expo opens in Beijing, injects stability in global trade
CISCE promotes intl cooperation, counters ‘decoupling’ attempts: experts
Published: Nov 28, 2023 10:07 PM
Audience seen at the booth of the first China International Supply Chain Expo (CISCE) in Beijing on November 28, 2023. Photo: Chi Jingyi/GT

Audience seen at the booth of the first China International Supply Chain Expo (CISCE) in Beijing on November 28, 2023. Photo: Chi Jingyi/GT

The China International Supply Chain Expo (CISCE) kicked off in Beijing on Tuesday, bringing together hundreds of political and business leaders from around the world to strengthen cooperation and safeguard the stability of global industrial and supply chains amid mounting risks and challenges for global trade.

At the opening ceremony of the world's first state-level supply chain expo, Chinese Premier Li Qiang said that China stands ready to work with all parties to build more resilient, efficient and dynamic global industrial and supply chains, while warning against disruptions to global cooperation that will hurt many countries. 

As global trade has come under serious pressure due to factors,including supply chain disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the rising geopolitical tensions and protectionism, the CISCE offers a crucial platform for cooperation on safeguarding the stability of supply chains and boosting trade and economic recovery, global business leaders said. China, as the world's biggest trading nation and the second-largest economy, plays a vital role in this endeavor, they said.

Crucial platform

More than 1,100 representatives from over 90 countries, regions and international organizations attended the opening ceremony on Tuesday morning. Among the world leaders who delivered speeches via video link were Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Uruguayan President Luis Lacalle Pou, according to expo organizer, the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT). 

Li said at the opening ceremony that when global industrial and supply chain cooperation remains stable and continues to deepen, countries around the world will generally benefit, but when cooperation is hindered and stagnant, countries around the world will generally suffer. China is not only a participant and beneficiary of global industrial and supply chain cooperation, but also a staunch defender and builder, he said, according to Xinhua.

In a speech at the opening ceremony, Widodo pointed out the need to strengthen global supply chains with new solutions and better collaborations, and he said that Indonesia welcomes the first CISCE to fully support global efforts to build a stronger and more stable global supply chain, according to a Chinese transcript of the speech the CCPIT provided to the Global Times.

At the ceremony, the CCPIT launched the Beijing Initiative for the Connectivity of Industrial and Supply Chains, which calls for market principles to be upheld and for concrete actions to be taken to deepen international cooperation on industrial and supply chains. It urges global cooperation to advance the liberalization and facilitation of trade and investment, and to reduce trade and investment barriers.

Underscoring the widespread desire among global businesses for stable industrial supply chains, 515 Chinese and foreign companies are attending the five-day expo, of which 26 percent are from overseas. Notably, many US and European companies signed up for the expo, even though they face calls to "decouple" or "de-risk" from China by some Western politicians. US companies account for 20 percent of all overseas firms attending the expo, China Media Group reported on Tuesday. 

Many global business leaders expressed great enthusiasm for the expo, which they say offers a crucial platform for international cooperation to safeguard the stability of global industrial and supply chains.

"The opening of the CISCE at this moment is of great significance. It will help governments and enterprises build an international exchange and cooperation platform with smoother communication, further maintain the stability of global industrial and supply chains, bring more warmth to the world economy and inject more vitality into the global economy," Jane Yang, managing partner of EY's Beijing Office, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

The CISCE comes amid mounting challenges and risks for global trade. In its latest Goods Trade Barometer released on Monday, the World Trade Organization said that while the volume of global merchandise trade is recovering after its recent slump, mixed economic results coupled with increasing geopolitical tensions make the near-term outlook highly uncertain. 

Meanwhile, under the pretext of protecting national security, many countries and regions have stepped up protectionist moves. The US has slapped punitive tariffs on products from China and imposed restrictions on many trade and investment activities.

"With all that going on, the world needs more than ever a platform to solidify global industrial and supply chains and to allow more countries and regions to participate in and benefit from them," Bai Ming, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Many global businesses at the CISCE also stressed the need to safeguard international supply chains. 

Important role

"Maintaining the resilience and stability of industrial supply chains is vital for global economic development," Alf Barrios, global mining giant Rio Tinto's chief commercial officer and China chair, told the Global Times on Tuesday. "In fact, the global supply chain is constantly changing and evolving, and China's role has become increasingly important thanks to economic reforms and its successful opening-up strategy."

According to a Global Supply Chain Promotion Report released by the CCPIT on Tuesday, China provides four major opportunities for the opening-up and cooperation of global supply chains, including its vast market opportunities, most complete range of industries, high-level opening-up and innovation. 

"As trade globalization continues to evolve, global industrial and supply chains have become increasingly interconnected. China plays a pivotal role in driving the steady growth of the world economy. With the continuous development of industrial manufacturing and foreign trade, China has become a cornerstone of the global industrial chain and supply chain," FedEx Express, which is a subsidiary of US-based FedEx Corp and attended the CISCE,  said in a statement sent to the Global Times on Tuesday.

The statement noted that over the next five years, China's import and export volume of trade in goods and services is expected to exceed $32 trillion and $5 trillion respectively, injecting new vigor to the world economy. 

"As the world's first state-level exhibition dedicated to supply chains, [the] CISCE, themed 'Connecting the World for a Shared Future,' serves as a platform for global industrial and supply chain enterprises like FedEx to showcase their comprehensive strengths and explore opportunities," it said. 

Despite attempts by some Western politicians to exclude China from certain global industrial and supply chains, China plays an irreplaceable role in global trade and is in fact taking proactive measures to promote global cooperation and build an open world economy that benefits all, Bai said. "China not only cannot be excluded, but actually plays the main role in safeguarding global industrial and supply chains," he said.

Apart from the CISCE, China has hosted a series of major forums to promote global cooperation. In October, it held the Third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing, which achieved nearly 460 outcomes and was attended by over 10,000 participants from more than 150 countries and 40 international organizations. In November, it held the 6th China International Import Expo in Shanghai, which drew more than 3,400 global exhibitors.