Volunteers take a photo with Jinbao, the mascot of the China International Import Expo, on November 10, the concluding day of the event (XINHUA)
Peng Shuxing had three words to describe the first China International Import Expo (CIIE) held recently: visionary, comprehensive and open. As a staff member of the State Grid Shanghai Municipal Electric Power Co. that supplied power to the CIIE, Peng had easy access to the jam-packed expo, being one of the 800,000 visitors.
"I saw the grand scene at the National Exhibition and Convention Center for three days," he told Beijing Review. "I think the expo was the Canton Fair, World Expo and the Chinese version of the World Economic Forum annual conference rolled into one. It had commercial exhibitions, country pavilions and an economic and trade forum."
A red wine fan, Peng got a chance to taste quality wine transported directly from chateaus in France, Chile, Argentina and Spain, and bought two boxes at a low price. "The exhibitors told me that instead of selling their products at the expo, they sought to promote their brands," Peng said. "I saw buyers visiting the booths one by one and discussing details for potential cooperation opportunities."
Wrapped up on November 10, the six-day event set up a platform for more than 3,600 enterprises from around the world to meet 400,000 purchasers. The CIIE was a significant event both domestically and internationally, producing multiple results, Sun Chenghai, Deputy Director of the CIIE Bureau, told a news conference after the expo concluded.
Exhibitors write "See you next year" in different languages on the last day of the first China International Import Expo in Shanghai
A long-term vision
Sun said deals for intended purchase of goods and services within a year struck at the expo reached $57.83 billion.
The State Grid Corp. of China, the parent organization of Peng's company, had formed its own trade sub-group to attend the expo. On November 6, it signed intention contracts with the pioneering Swiss power grid company ABB Group and other suppliers. In total, there were 15 intention contracts for cooperation with 12 suppliers from six countries for high-end intelligent equipment for power grid construction.
During a major matchmaking event on November 6-8, 657 contracts and letters of intent were signed. Also, over 600 intentions on further on-site visits were reached.
"China's initiative to expand imports is not a makeshift, but long-term consideration of embracing the world and future while promoting common development," President Xi Jinping said when the CIIE was inaugurated on November 5. "China's imported goods and services are estimated to exceed $30 trillion and $10 trillion, respectively, in the next 15 years."
The expo showcased China's responsibility as the second largest economy to contribute to the development of the world economy by opening up its market, inviting foreign enterprises and sharing the benefits of its reform and opening up. With a population of about 1.4 billion, China is a huge market.
"We fully recognize the importance of the Chinese market," Canadian Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Lawrence MacAulay said. "The annual trade volume between [our] two countries has reached hundreds of billions of Canadian dollars, and we hope that this amount will double by 2025."
Costas Kadis, Agriculture Minister of Cyprus, expressed readiness to participate in the 2019 expo, after his country signed a protocol with China to export Cypriot dairy products. For Cyprus, China is a market with great potential, Kadis said.
Jake Yamashita, President and CEO of Ricoh China, also committed to attending the 2019 expo.
This year, Ricoh, a Japanese multinational imaging and electronics company, had a 100-square-meter booth. "Next year, we are going to expand the exhibition area to 400 square meters," he said.
More than deals
If the deals clinched at the expo were the trophies, then the seeds of innovation and opportunity sowed by the participating countries and companies made the fair a platform to nourish domestic demand, international cooperation and high-quality economic development.
"All countries should stick to innovation and accelerate the transition with traditional growth drivers being replaced by new ones," Xi said at the inauguration, emphasizing the importance of innovation for enterprises and countries in the new era.
"Nothing motivates innovation more than trade does," Andrej Plenković, Prime Minister of Croatia, said at an international trade forum held during the expo.
The CIIE introduced some of the most advanced technologies, products and services from all over the world to enable Chinese buyers to order global products from home. A widening door, it created both integration and competition between Chinese and foreign enterprises, which can generate more new technologies and business models. Through trade and exchanges, imported and domestic brands can achieve win-win cooperation.
"I was highly impressed by the high-end technological products at the CIIE such as the Da Vinci robotic surgery system [in which the surgeon uses robotic hands] and radiotherapy equipment exhibited by Swedish innovator Elekta," Peng said.
The CIIE also signaled China's resolution to encourage trade liberalization, a multilateral trading system and globalization. Xi said, "The Chinese economy is a sea, not a pond. Storms can overturn a pond, but never a sea," highlighting China's openness and inclusiveness.
International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde gave one of the most insightful interpretations of China's efforts to build bridges. In her speech at the opening of the CIIE, she said China is building three bridges: a "bridge to the world," a "bridge to prosperity" and a "bridge to the future."
Copyedited by Sudeshna Sarkar
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