By Yuan Yanan
The world’s first import-themed national-level expo, the China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai last year was a big success. The six-day event attracted over 400,000 buyers and 3,600 companies from across the globe. The value of inked deals reached at the expo topped US$57.8 billion according to the official data. A total of 3,617 companies from 151 countries and regions showcased their products in the business exhibition. Among them were 1,153 enterprises from 58 countries along the Belt and Road, accounting for 16.4 percent of the exhibition area. At least 570 new products, technologies and service items were released on the Chinese mainland or in the world.
The CIIE is a testament to the fruits of China’s four decades of reform and opening-up and direct action to reinforce China’s position supporting economic globalization and meet its responsibilities as a major country. As anti-globalization sentiment rose and many developed countries turned to trade protectionism, the expo showcased China’s commitment and contributions to global free trade.
With the second CIIE just around the corner, preparations for the next edition of the import fair have reached the final stage. Shanghai Mayor Ying Yong opined that the CIIE will help strengthen China’s multilateral relations with other countries and regions by stabilizing their market expectations.
New Policies, More Participants
The second CIIE will be held in Shanghai from November 5 to 10. After so many companies signed up for this year’s event, the exhibition area has been expanded to 360,000 square meters from 300,000 last year.
More than 3,000 foreign companies from 150 countries and regions have confirmed participation in the expo. As many as 250 of Fortune 500 companies will participate in the CIIE this year.
“The exhibition area, new product releases, and attendance by Fortune 500 companies and industry leaders have all eclipsed the numbers of last year’s expo,” reported deputy director of CIIE bureau Sun Chenghai on July 26 at a news conference in Shanghai.
New policies are ensuring preparations go smoothly. The General Administration of Customs has established a special customs office at the expo venue, the National Exhibition and Convention Center in Shanghai, to streamline clearance for foreign exhibits and provide one-stop services for exhibiting companies.
The customs arrangements enable expo organizers to provide unified tax guarantees for participating companies and facilitate approval and quarantine procedures for exhibit clearance.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs has delegated power for approval on import and export of endangered aquatic plants and animals to Shanghai Municipality.
Shanghai Intellectual Property Administration is set to review applications from expo exhibitors with a service window at the venue.
A CIIE release platform will be introduced at this year’s event. Through it, the Chinese government will announce its latest policies, and international organizations will be able to publish research results.
Huge Market Potential
The CIIE will provide golden business opportunities for Chinese and foreign enterprises alike and boost trade volume to new levels.
Over the past 40 years, China’s economic size and strength have been constantly increasing. Now China has the world’s second largest GDP and the largest foreign currency reserve after maintaining medium-to-high speed economic growth for such a long time. China’s imports increased 15.9 percent in 2018, climbing to US$1.8 trillion, evidencing the growing potential of China’s domestic market. Over the next 15 years, China expects to import goods worth US$30 trillion and services worth US$10 trillion.
Thanks to geographical proximity to China, ASEAN countries are poised to share the benefits brought by China’s opening-up. Even though the global growth is slowing, trade between China and ASEAN continues to boom. In 2018, trade volume between China and ASEAN increased by 14.1 percent to US$587.8 billion. ASEAN has become China’s second-largest trading partner in the first half of 2019, overtaking the United States for the first time since 1997. China has now been ASEAN’s largest trading partner for 10 consecutive years.
As President Xi Jinping said during the first CIIE in 2018, the expo is not an ordinary event, but marks China’s new round of advancing high-level opening-up as well as the country’s taking significant steps to open its market to the rest of the world. With the huge market potential and preferential policies, CIIE will be able to further upgrade the trade and economic cooperation between China and ASEAN.
Platform for ASEAN Enterprises
Last year, a total of 15 organizations from ASEAN countries were involved in the expo. They organized participation of companies from their respective countries. Some were government agencies such as the Ministry of Industry and Trade of Vietnam, the Ministry of Industry and Commerce of Laos, the Department of Trade and Industry of the Philippines, the Ministry of Commerce of Cambodia and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Brunei. Many enterprises including Charoen Pokphand Group, Bagus Group and Wilmar International, as well as industry associations, participated in the CIIE.
Exhibits from ASEAN countries were primarily food and agricultural products as well as daily consumer products. Some enterprises also appeared in areas for high-end intelligent equipment, medical equipment and health care products.
“We recognized the great opportunity of the CIIE and signed up to participate as soon as we could,” declared Dhanin Chearavanont, senior chairman of Charoen Pokphand Group. “Charoen Pokphand Group will continue to participate in the CIIE every year to introduce our high-quality resources and products to China and satisfy Chinese customers.”
Through active publicity and negotiation, Charoen Pokphand Group amassed purchase intentions valued at over 3 billion yuan in 2018. “We will also fully leverage the CIIE as a platform to formulate strategic plans for importing and exporting to improve our performance in China to benefit more Chinese people,” added Chearavanont.
This year Singapore is to boost its presence in the expo. China has been Singapore’s largest trading partner since 2013, while Singapore has been China’s largest foreign investor, according to a report by the Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Singapore Business Federation is leading a delegation of more than 300 senior business representatives from 84 enterprises to CIIE this November. In a 1,600-squaremeter exhibition area, Singaporean companies will have a prominent presence in trade in services, food and agricultural products, and scitech lifestyle exhibition halls.
“CIIE showcases Singapore not just to China, but the world,” commented Teo Siong Seng, chairman of the Singapore Business Federation. “We also welcome Chinese companies to tap Singapore’s connections and expertise in Southeast Asia to expand their operations in the region.”
More enterprises from other ASEAN countries including Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia are gearing up for the CIIE. The new CIIE platform is poised to further tighten the bonds of friendship between China and ASEAN countries and raise their cooperation to a higher level.