SHANGHAI, China, Nov 5 (Reuters) – China’s market leader said on Sunday at a trade fair in Shanghai, amid criticism from European companies who want more tangible improvements in the country’s business environment. He said he would further expand access and increase imports. .
Premier Li Qiang said at the opening ceremony of the annual China International Import Expo that China is committed to opening up its economy and that imports of goods and services will reach a cumulative total of $17 trillion over the next five years.
“No matter how the world changes, China’s pace of opening up to the outside world will never slow down, and China’s determination to share development opportunities with the world will never change,” Li said.
He said China will promote the coordinated development of trade in goods and services, protect the international business environment and ease market access, including lifting restrictions on foreign investment in manufacturing.
The import expo was launched by President Xi Jinping in 2018 to promote China’s free trade credentials and counter criticism of its trade surpluses with many countries. However, over the past three years, participation has declined due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year’s event drew criticism on Friday from the European Chamber of Commerce in China, which branded it a “political showcase” and called for more concrete measures to restore confidence in China among European businesses. He asked the authorities to take action.
China’s imports have slumped this year as the world’s second-largest economy slows, but data released last month suggests the decline may be starting to ease.
In his speech, Li cited examples of companies that have benefited from the trade fair, including an Afghan carpet maker and a Japanese pharmaceutical company, but he did not name the companies and said he was one of the roughly 3,400 companies that participated this year. Of these, more than 200 companies repeatedly participated in the trade fair, he said. For the past 6 years.
Countries such as Australia and the United States are sending large delegations to the event, which will be held from November 5th to 10th. Participants include Micron Technology (MU.O), Nestlé (NESN.S), Burberry (BRBY.L) and L’Oréal (OREP.PA), state media said.
On Sunday, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese opened his country’s leader’s first visit to China in seven years, saying at an opening ceremony that dialogue and cooperation was “in all our interests”.
Last year, the trade fair saw $73.52 billion worth of so-called intentional deals concluded, an increase of 3.9% year-on-year.
In his speech on Sunday, Li also said China would “actively pursue” its application to join the Comprehensive Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
Taiwan, Ukraine, Costa Rica, Uruguay and Ecuador have also applied to join.
The CPTPP is a landmark trade agreement agreed in 2018 between 11 countries including Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
Earlier this year, the UK became the 12th member of the agreement to reduce trade barriers. China’s application, if processed in the order of receipt, would be considered next by the 12 countries.
Reporting by Brenda Goh in Shanghai and Martin Quinn Pollard in Beijing.Editing: Michael Perry and Christopher Cushing
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