A general view shows the city's skyline in Shanghai, east China, Nov. 2, 2018. The first China International Import Expo (CIIE) will be held on Nov. 5-10 in Shanghai. (Xinhua/Wang Jianhua)
by Xinhua writers Wang Xiuqiong, Xu Xiaoqing
The world's first import-themed national-level expo will be a concrete action to open up China's market and cast a firm vote of confidence in free trade when protectionism threatens global growth.
The inaugural China International Import Expo (CIIE), slated for Nov. 5-10 in Shanghai, comes at the right time.
It proves that China means business in further promoting win-win and balanced trade. More than 3,000 companies from over 130 countries and regions will be brought to the doors of a vast and vibrant market, already the world's second largest merchandise importer for nine consecutive years.
The unprecedented fair will give a vivid glimpse of how China is becoming a bigger buyer of products ranging from Ethiopian coffee, New Zealand avocados and U.S. new energy vehicles to Japanese electronic products and a 200-tonne German milling machine.
Bridging suppliers from all across the world with more than 160,000 buyers from over 80,000 domestic as well as foreign companies, the expo will substantially reduce the information and institutional costs for trade and deliver tangible deals and benefits for foreign firms.
It sends a resounding message: China is serious about opening its doors wider.
A brainchild of President Xi Jinping, the expo is set to become a landmark project in the country's new round of higher-level opening up.
China marks the 40th anniversary of reform and opening up this year. When its economy sees changes amid overall stability with increased downward pressure, the country's resolve to open up becomes even stronger. Why? One lesson it has learned from its own history is only an open economy can prosper.
A more accessible Chinese market also brings certainty and hope to the troubled world economy, offering dividends and opportunities to all.
The country has cut tariffs for an array of products including vehicles, consumer products and industrial goods this year, lowering the overall tariff rate on imported goods from 9.8 percent last year to 7.5 percent. It has also relaxed foreign ownership restrictions in such sectors as automobiles and financial services.
The import expo builds on those efforts. It comes at an inflection point when China shifts from the workshop of the world to the market for the world, with the world's biggest middle-income population demanding higher-quality consumer products.
An overwhelming response to the expo from foreign firms tells much about the appeal of China's opening up. The booth area for businesses had to be expanded twice from the original plans to a size equivalent to 38 football pitches. More and more firms have already signed up for the second CIIE scheduled next year.
With wide participation, the import expo serves as a global public good for inclusive growth. Companies from all the G20 member states and 58 countries along the Belt and Road, as well as more than 30 of the world's 44 least developed countries, will send exhibitors to the event.
During the coming six days, Shanghai will teem with business and show the world that the trail-blazing expo is not a mere gesture.