Premier Li Qiang stated at the annual China International Import Expo that China will further broaden market access and boost imports. This announcement comes in the wake of criticism from European firms, which expressed the need for more tangible improvements in China's business environment.
During the opening ceremony of the expo, Li Qiang emphasized China's commitment to economic openness, highlighting the expectation that imports of goods and services would reach a cumulative total of $17 trillion within the next five years. Li stated, "No matter how the world changes, China's pace of opening up will never stall, and its determination to share development opportunities with the world will never change."
China's plans include promoting the coordinated development of trade in goods and services, safeguarding an international business-friendly environment, and easing market access by lifting restrictions on foreign investment in manufacturing.
The China International Import Expo was initiated by President Xi Jinping in 2018 to bolster China's reputation as a proponent of free trade and address criticisms of its trade surplus with many countries. The COVID-19 pandemic has curtailed participation in the past three years.
However, this year's event faced criticism from the European Chamber of Commerce in China, which described it as a "political showcase." The chamber urged Chinese authorities to implement more concrete measures to restore European businesses' confidence in the country.
China's imports have experienced a decline this year due to a slowdown in the world's second-largest economy. Nevertheless, recent data suggests that the downward trend may be easing.
In his speech, Premier Li cited examples of businesses that have benefited from the expo, including an Afghan carpet maker and a Japanese pharmaceutical firm, though he did not provide specific names. Out of the approximately 3,400 companies participating this year, over 200 have been repeat attendees for the past six years.
Several countries, including Australia and the United States, have sent sizable delegations to the event, which runs from November 5 to 10. Notable participants include Micron Technology, Nestle, Burberry, and L'Oreal, as reported by state media.
During the opening ceremony, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, making the first visit to China by an Australian leader in seven years, emphasized the importance of dialogue and cooperation, stating that it is "in all our interests." Last year, the expo saw the signing of $73.52 billion worth of international deals, marking a 3.9% increase from the previous year.
Premier Li also announced that China will "actively promote" its application to join the Comprehensive Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). Other countries, including Taiwan, Ukraine, Costa Rica, Uruguay, and Ecuador, have also applied for CPTPP membership. This trade pact, agreed upon in 2018, includes 11 countries: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. Britain became the 12th member earlier this year, and China's application is next in line for consideration by the current members.