Visitors view a robot arm performing makeup tutorship at the Apparel, Accessories & Consumer Goods area of the first China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai, east China, Nov. 9, 2018. (Xinhua/Shen Bohan)
SHANGHAI, Nov. 10 (Xinhua) -- At the first China International Import Expo (CIIE) held here, an eye-catching number -- 40 trillion U.S. dollars -- has stirred up waves in participants' discussions.
While addressing the CIIE's opening ceremony, Chinese President Xi Jinping said Monday that China's imported goods and services are estimated to exceed 30 trillion dollars and 10 trillion dollars,respectively,in the next 15 years.
As the number marks nearly half of the global GDP in 2017, sellers and buyers have seen a golden opportunity to share benefits from the CIIE's vision of global connectivity and common prosperity.
OPENING INCLUSIVE MARKET
More than 3,600 companies from 172 countries, regions and international organizations have showcased their achievements at the CIIE, looking for more chances of international cooperation.
The expo provides a display space of 300,000 square meters, accommodating around 400,000 merchants from China and abroad. Organizers say 200 of the Fortune 500 companies rented exhibition stands.
The fieriness tells a simple fact -- the world has recognized the huge consumption potential of the Chinese market.
Jose, a Brazilian coffee seller, told Xinhua that he predicted China will become the world's largest coffee consuming country in 10 years.
Usually, transporting coffee from Brazil to China has to go through a process of 10 links, according to Jose. But the CIIE has provided an excellent opportunity to greatly reduce the intermediate costs, he said with excitement.
Artificial Intelligence, flying cars, smart city plans ... The dazzling technologies on display here demonstrate that consumption upgrade and industrial upgrade are synchronized in China.
In addition to high quality products, the Chinese market is also yearning for good services. China's cumulative service imports are expected to exceed 2.5 trillion dollars in the next five years, a Ministry of Commerce (MOC) report showed Tuesday.
China's service imports will account for more than 10 percent of global service imports, contributing over 20 percent to total global growth in the coming five years, said the report.
Just as World Trade Organization (WTO) Director-General Roberto Azevedo commented here, the Chinese market will open to everyone, "not in a discriminatory fashion."
"It's up to every country to seize the opportunities," he told Xinhua here in an interview. "(What) we need today is not more borders but less borders."
"Every time the global economy grows, it is because that trade is booming. It is because the integration is there and the borders are open. When we begin to close borders, that kind of growth and development are going to suffer," he said.
BRIDGING DEVELOPMENT GAPS
On China's endeavors to achieve common prosperity with opening up and reform measures, International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Christine Lagarde metaphorically commented that China has been building three bridges.
In her speech at the CIIE, Lagarde said China constructed a "bridge to the world" by opening its economy and by kickstarting reforms 40 years ago.
Now, Lagarde said, China is building a "bridge to prosperity" by re-balancing its economy towards consumption-led growth, rather than export- and investment-led growth, and also a "bridge to the future" by harnessing the power of international cooperation, especially on trade.
The CIIE is a symbol of these efforts, she said.
As the world's biggest developing country, China has particularly attached great importance to connecting with developing countries as well as the least developed countries at the expo, seeking common development on a larger scale.
The CIIE has invited 35 out of more than 40 least developed countries (LDCs) listed by the UN, including Nepal, Afghanistan, Cambodia, Ethiopia and Madagascar, offering preferential policies such as exemption of participation fees for them to promote their products like honey, peppers, hair oil and other organic products.
"This is a very great opportunity for Malawi to find an entrance into the Chinese market," said Clement Kumbemba, CEO of the Malawi Investment and Trade Center.
Kumbemba, who regarded the import expo as a quicker way to improve the Malawi people's livelihood, said "the best tool to address poverty is trade."
"When their products find themselves in the export market, more people in Malawi will have money in their pockets," he said.
SHARING WORLD DREAMS
Just as President Xi put it, "the Chinese economy is not a pond, but an ocean."
Amid a global context of rising protectionism and unilateralism, China has opened its door to the world by hosting the import expo, reaffirming its commitments to safeguarding multilateralism and the free trade system.
The expo has received overwhelming responses from this year's participants. According to organizers, the 2019 CIIE enrollment has already started. U.S. companies, including Ford, Tesla, Microsoft, Dell, Qualcomm, General Electric, Mars and 3M, have already agreed to participate next year.
"The CIIE is a platform that goes beyond China," said Stephen Badger, chairman of the board of directors of confectionery maker Mars from Chicago, U.S. state of Illinois.
"It is a truly global event driving development across all Chinese industries by promoting cooperation amongst government and business entities as well as globalization and trade liberalization," he said.
China has been persistent in opening up despite some domestic pains, said World Bank President Jim Yong Kim.
"By ensuring that all layers of the society gained from the opening up, China ensured the continued support for the reform program. This is the lesson for everyone," he said.
"We need to continue to support trade reforms that can deliver a greater shared prosperity," Kim stressed. "With trade, we don't have to choose between inclusiveness and economic growth."
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