Published: Mon, November 05, 2018
Economy | By

China's Xi promises market opening as import fair begins

China's Xi promises market opening as import fair begins

China is using the Expo to showcase its willingness to open up its market to other countries.

In October, Ma told World Trade Organization delegates that the Geneva-based body has come under threat from Trump's efforts to recast the global trading system in a way that he says will be more balanced toward the U.S. The American president has this year targeted allies and adversaries alike, threatening tariffs on all of China's exports, proposing levies on European car-makers and saying he could leave the WTO, which he has described as "unfair".

Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks at the opening ceremony for the first China International Import Expo in Shanghai on Monday. "It's going to be a huge pain to a lot of businesses, but it's also going to be a good opportunity for a lot of consumers". China has been the world's second largest merchandise importer for nine consecutive years. A US Embassy spokesperson said the Trump administration had no plans to send a high-level representative, adding that "China needs to make the necessary reforms to end its unfair trade practices that are harming the world economy".

Foreign business groups, too, have grown tired of Chinese reform promises, and while opposing Trump's tariffs, have longed warned that China would invite retaliation if it didn't match the openness of its trading partners. But he made no mention of complaints that China's plans for state-led development of technology industries and curbs on access to its domestic industries violate its free-trade obligations.

He said "economic globalisation is facing setbacks, multilateralism and the free trade system is under attack, factors of instability and uncertainty are numerous, and risks and obstacles are increasing".

He believes that economic globalization is an irreversible historical trend and provides strong momentum for the world economic development.

Louis Kuijs, head of Asia economics at Oxford Economics, said the speech was meaningful, if short on fresh initiatives.

China imported $1.84 trillion of goods in 2017, up 16 per cent, or $255 billion, from a year earlier.

The trade pact came days after Kenya reversed a move to ban tilapia fish exports from China. The Chinese government's top diplomat, State Councillor Wang Yi, said in March that China would import $8 trillion of goods in the next five years. While Trump has floated the possibility of a deal when he meets Xi in the coming weeks, they remain far apart on market access and government support for state-run enterprises.

Trump has announced boosted tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese goods, while China has countered with $110 billion in tariffs on US products.

Presidents or prime ministers from 17 countries were set to attend the expo, ranging from Russian Federation and Pakistan to the Cook Islands, though none from major Western nations.

But US officials say that amounts to China trying to buy its way out of criticism with a short-term import bump rather than real reform.

A handful of countries are being represented by a single exhibitor selling one product. Iran, saffron. Jamaica will be marketing its famed blue mountain coffee and Chad is selling bauxite.

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