Final touches before China International Import Expo gets underway

World Today

Next week’s China International Import Expo showcases companies from all over the world. They are eager to enter the Chinese market, or expand their existing operations.

Several countries are sending high-level delegations. The U.S. is not among them. For a preview of the CIIE, CGTN’s Roee Ruttenberg reported from Shanghai.

Crews had been working around the clock assembling exhibits from every corner of the world. Next week, tens of thousands of people from China and abroad will fill Shanghai’s National Exhibition and Convention Center with its nearly half-a-million square meters in exhibition space.

“All member countries of the G20, BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization will attend the expo. And enterprises from more than 50 countries along the Belt and Road route and from more than 30 least-developed countries will also participate,” explained Wang Bingnan, vice minister of the Chinese Ministry of Commerce.

The China International Import Expo will promote developing economies alongside the world’s more well-established ones. It’ll also give a platform to small and medium-sized companies in theory, enabling them to compete alongside major global firms.

Think of what’s going to happen as essentially a speed-dating service, a sort of matchmaking meant to address both supply and demand. So, a Chinese province – looking to diversify its imports – can shop globally without even going abroad. Or, a foreign company, looking for distribution in China, can come here and quickly find that chain.

“China is about to take more steps in opening-up, more concrete steps in allowing countries to come here, set up here, do business here, selling to this market, opening up its market,” said John Edwards, British Consul General in Shanghai.

For some, that was great news, but Washington didn’t appear to share that sentiment. Just days ago, an American diplomat in Beijing said the U.S. would not send a senior delegation to Shanghai. He also urged China to end what he called its “unfair trading practices.” Some saw this snub as another chess move in Washington’s confrontations with Beijing.

Despite the ongoing trade war, nearly 200 American firms were expected to participate. China said it intends to import $10 trillion worth of goods over the next five years. Those goods have to come from somewhere.

For nearly a decade, China had been the world’s leading exporter. The fact that China now wanted to transform itself into a giant importer is no small task. The expo is the first of its kind, which sends a message. China is no longer content to be the world’s ‘factory floor.’ One of the world’s fastest-growing consumer markets was getting set to consume a lot more.

Gordon Houlden previews the China International Import Expo

CGTN’s Rachelle Akuffo spoke with Gordon Houden, director of the China Institute at the University of Alberta, about what to expect from the China International Import Expo.

Ryan Patel on what China hopes to accomplish with the import expo

For more on what China hopes its international import expo will accomplish – and what it says about the country’s economic direction – CGTN’s Elaine Reyes spoke with Ryan Patel, an international business executive.