As the first China International Import Expo is less than one month away, the host city Shanghai has reached the final stage of its preparations, as products from all over the world have been arriving in the city.
Designed to be a world-class event on a par with the most renowned exhibitions in the world, the inaugural import expo combines country exhibitions, enterprise exhibitions and forums to promote free trade and an open global economy.
The event, which will be held at the National Exhibition and Convention Center from Nov 5 to 10 in Shanghai, was first announced in 2017 by President Xi Jinping, who called it "an important policy statement and action demonstrating China's embracing of greater openness".
According to the China International Import Expo Bureau, a total of 2,800 companies from the G20 member states, as well as 50 countries and regions involved in the Belt and Road Initiative, will participate in the expo. Around 160,000 buyers from more than 80,000 domestic and overseas enterprises have also signed up for the event.
In addition, 80 countries and three international organizations have confirmed their participation in the event, said the bureau.
As the event is drawing near, goods from foreign exhibitors have arrived at local customs. Shanghai has opened green channels for the products, significantly cutting the time needed for them to be unloaded and stored in local warehouses.
So far, it is estimated that products from more than 1,500 exhibitors have arrived in the Chinese mainland, while those from another 1,000 have been or are being shipped.
Gao Rongkun, director of Shanghai Customs, said that the customs department has drawn on the experiences from the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2010 Shanghai Expo to design measures for the upcoming event in November, such as offering a one-stop service for exhibit registration, clearance and supervision, and reconciliation.
Several other measures were published in June, including the expansion of categories of imported exhibits for agricultural and livestock products, and the simplification of export and disposal procedures for exhibits after the expo.
Fang Hui, general manager of the operation department of the National Exhibition and Convention Center, said a temporary customs inspection area will be set up in the northern plaza of the center for late arrivals or highly valuable exhibits that are not suitable for inspection at ports.
Chinese companies are eyeing the great potential of boosting imports through the event.
"During the expo, we expect to import at least 1,000 kinds of products and services that have not been sold in the domestic market," said Wang Zhe, Party secretary of China's commercial giant Suning Holdings Group. "In the next three years, we plan to import goods worth 10 billion euros ($11.5 billion)."
Liang Feng, president of the State-owned China National Machine Tool Sales and Technical Service Corporation, said the CIIE will see eight leading companies in the machine tool industry launch a dozen new products in China for the first time.
More than 100 new products and technologies are expected to debut at the expo, according to statistics from the organizers.
Forty-three African countries have confirmed their participation in the expo. Around 190 enterprises from Africa will promote local products such as Egyptian date palm, Ethiopian coffee, and Amarula from South Africa, according to the organizers.
"The CIIE shows China's changing trade strategy and its resolve to fulfill its responsibility as a major country and achieve mutual benefits and win-win cooperation with all nations," said Zhao Beiwen, deputy head of the World Economy Institute of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.
As the host city, Shanghai has been holding rehearsals, improving city infrastructure and training volunteers to meet needs of the upcoming event. A comprehensive rehearsal was held at the expo venue on Oct 4 covering various scenarios.
Realizing that the six-day exhibition would be too short a period for exhibitors and buyers from all over the world to learn and take advantage of business opportunities in China, Shanghai's commerce commission has established exhibition and transaction platforms that would be available all year round. These platforms are aimed at providing a channel for foreign products, services and technology to enter the Chinese market.
The municipality has also set up a one-stop, year-round platform that will feature import exhibits, including those from the six-day expo.
Xinhua contributed to this story.