What to expect: upcoming 2nd China International Import Expo in Shanghai

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The second China International Import Expo (CIIE) scheduled for November 5 to 10 is warning up in Shanghai after over 3,000 enterprises from about 150 countries and regions have signed up for the show.

On Saturday, President Xi Jinping arrived in the economic hub and made an inspection to Yangpu District of Shanghai. Xi is expected to deliver a keynote speech at the import fair.

Although China is tightening security and censorship in all aspects of society, the government insists that the Expo is a major measure for China to take the initiative to open its market to the world. Xinhua says China’s opening-up determination is met with acknowledgement worldwide.

China’s import has been growing at an average rate of 8.25 percent annually from 2016 to 2018 and is expected to top 2 trillion U.S. dollars in 2019, according to official data.

192 U.S. enterprises will attend the upcoming Import Expo venue, taking up the largest exhibition area among all participating countries, local media has reported.

General Electric Company (GE), in its second CIIE appearance, will showcase its solutions for clean energy and unveil some eye-catching products, according to Rachel Duan, president and chief executive officer of GE Global Growth Markets.

Critics have said CIIE, which was launched last year, is mostly symbolic, and argue that a six-day fair focused on buying foreign goods does little to address the structural issues that underpin critiques of Beijing’s trade and economic practices.

Ker Gibbs, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai, said that while CIIE was an opportunity for companies, concerns about intellectual property rights, market access and the lack of a level playing field “are real challenges”.

The Office of the United States Trade Representative faces a massive backlog of requests from companies seeking a reprieve from the Trump administration’s tariffs against China, even as Washington and Beijing try to finalize phase one this year of a deal to end the 18-month-long trade war, according to CNBC.

More than 3,000 companies have filed about 44,000 requests for exclusions from the first three rounds of President Donald Trump’s tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese imports. The overwhelming majority of these requests, about 28,000are under review as of Nov. 1. About 4,900 requests have been granted, while about 10,970 have been denied.

While most western countries have shown little enthusiasm to the fair, countries along the Belt and Road are responding positively.

On Sunday, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis arrives in Shanghai to attend the event. A total of 58 Turkish firms have brought their cosmetics, porcelain, kitchen ware and utensils, textile, food, electronics, and medical products and services.

Of the 170 countries to the Expo, visitors will also see a lot more faces from Africa. Chinese Ambassador to Egypt Liao Liqiang made his remarks in an article published by Egypt’s state-run Al-Ahram newspaper on Saturday, saying that the CIIE provides a chance for the Egyptian companies to explore the Chinese market and expand Egyptian exports to China.

According to South China Morning Post, about 200 Hong Kong exhibitors will participate in the Import Expo, 40 per cent more than last year.

Months of protests in Hong Kong that forced shops to close, paralyzed public transportation and scared off tourists have left the city’s economy in worse shape than feared.

As a major trading hub, Hong Kong was already hurting from the US-China trade war and China’s slowing growth. Five months of mass demonstrations is now pushing the city toward an economic crisis. Hong Kong plunged into recession in the third quarter, according to official data released Thursday, CNN has reported.

John Ruwitch with Reuters said that China uses this giant import fair in Shanghai to try to showcase its free trade credentials, temper criticism of its policies and deepen its global economic influence at a time of fresh uncertainty over the China-U.S. trade war.

John said the week-long Import Expo comes at a critical moment, following Chile’s announcement on Wednesday that it was withdrawing as host of an APEC summit in mid-November.

By Winnie Troppie

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