China’s firms sign $73 billion worth of deals at flagship Shanghai import expo

13-Nov-2020 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

China’s flagship imports expo concluded with more deals signed this year than last, although foreign companies remain unconvinced about Beijing’s commitment to creating a level playing field for them in the domestic market.

The third annual China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai booked a total of $72.62 billion worth of deals for the purchase of goods and services over the coming year, up 2.1 per cent from last year.

European businesses, though, said last year about half of the deals signed at the 2018 event had not been executed.

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Before the event, the Shanghai government said that 400,000 people had registered, although it did not provide a breakdown of foreign visitors. In 2019, more than 500,000 people registered for the trade fair with 6,000 from overseas.

CIIE was started in 2018 by President Xi Jinping as a way of boosting imports to help reduce China’s large global trade surplus and to show the government’s commitment to opening up its economy at the onset of the trade war with the United States.

In a video address at the start of the expo last week, Xi said the “trend of opening up and cooperation among countries remains unchanged” and all nations should promote “mutual openness”.

But Carlo Diego D’Andrea, vice-president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China and chair of its Shanghai chapter, said some members had to cancel their trips to Shanghai this year because they did not have sufficient time to make the complicated travel arrangements required by the CIIE guidelines.

Due to the coronavirus, the six-day international trade event imposed strict access to cross border travellers, who had to quarantine for 14 days in Shanghai and be tested before they could attend the event. Before entering the venue, visitors also had to provide evidence that they had tested negative on a nucleic acid test and were required to wear a mask at all times.

Our 2019 survey concluded that [the CIIE] was a little more than a large scale trade show and failed to live up the expectations of market opening

Carlo Diego D’Andrea

“Communications with regard to the logistics should have been made much earlier,” said D’Andrea. “We understand China gives a lot of importance to health and takes precautions on Covid-19 but this also creates troubles for all our members.

“It should also be noted that many European chamber members view the CIIE as irrelevant for their business opportunities. Our 2019 survey concluded that [the CIIE] was a little more than a large scale trade show and failed to live up the expectations of market opening.”

D’Andrea said that foreign companies in Shanghai continued to face challenges, including strict capital controls, and were not in a position to take advantage of the opening up of the financial sector because it was “too little, too late”.

“It’s almost impossible for European companies to catch up or to take advantage of some of the opening, such as financial reforms like the example of the banking sector,” he added.

“Shanghai had wanted to become an international financial centre by 2020, but we can see it is far from the goal.”


Category: China

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