SHANGHAI, China (Reuters) – China will further expand market access and imports, promote opening up and market opportunities and remove barriers to foreign investment in manufacturing, Chinese Premier Li Qiang said on Sunday.
Addressing the opening ceremony of the annual China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai, Li said China’s imports of goods and services were expected to reach a cumulative $17 trillion over the next five years, adding that China’s economy continues to rebound and improve.
China will promote the coordinated development of trade in goods and services, continue to protect an international business environment, and promote a higher level of cooperation and openness, Li also said.
China will also soon release a plan to promote high-standard institutional opening up in the Shanghai free trade zone, Li said.
The CIIE, a fair focused on the import of foreign goods, was launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2018 to promote the country’s free trade credentials and counter criticism of its trade surplus with many countries but participation in the past three years had been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Organisers of the event, which runs from Nov 5-10, said 69 countries and three international organisations as well as 289 of the world’s top 500 companies will be participating, according to state media, including firms such as Micron (NASDAQ:), Nestle, Burberry and L’Oreal are expected to attend.
The event however drew criticism from the European Chamber of Commerce in China on Friday, who called it as being more of a “political showcase” and urged Chinese authorities to make changes to the event and enact more tangible measures to restore confidence among European businesses.
Last year, $73.52 billion worth of ‘intentional’ deals were signed at the fair, up 3.9% from the previous year.