Xi Pledges to Open Chinese Market

Jeannie Matthews
November 6, 2018

But in opening a high-profile import expo in Shanghai he provided no response to US and European complaints about technology policy and curbs on foreign business.

China has retaliated in kind.

The comments are seen as a reference to the U.S., with which China is fighting a trade war. The yuan weakened as shares dropped from Tokyo to Shanghai.

China imported $1.84 trillion of goods in 2017, up 16 percent, or $255 billion, from a year earlier. Economic growth is stable, the government capacity for macro-economic regulation is increasing, and efforts to deepen reform across the board have unleashed new drivers of growth, he said.

China remains one of the world's most protectionist economies. He did say, however, that stimulus already announced was being seen in the economy.

"It's going to be a huge pain to a lot of businesses, but it's also going to be a good opportunity for a lot of consumers", he said, adding that China can face any challenges.

Enthusiasm wasn't high in the run-up to the event. Key nodes of the Belt and Road - Southeast Asia, East Africa, Central and Eastern Europe, and of course Pakistan - were represented by heads of state and government from regional countries (Central Asia was notable here for its absence of top-level representation). Of G-20 countries, only Russian Federation is sending a head of state or government.

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President Xi claimed that the country will buy goods worth over $30 trillion from other countries over the next 15 years, and said the country was committed to globalisation.

Over recent months China has started to open up its markets for United Kingdom goods and services, including dairy products, potatoes and petrol stations. Trump predicted he'd be able to make a deal with China on trade.

"We will foster a world-class business environment", Mr Xi said in an address opening the import fair in Shanghai.

"They should not hold a flashlight in hand, doing nothing but highlight the weaknesses of others and not their own".

Foreign business surveys indicate that the playing field in China is actually worsening as Xi champions a strong-China message not unlike Trump´s "America First" platform. "We've taken the toughest-ever action to crack down on China's abusive trade practices. Otherwise we wont do it", Mr Trump said on on a midterm election campaign conference call.

China ranks 59th out of the 62 countries evaluated by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in terms of openness to foreign direct investment.

Companies in attendance include General Motors, Ford, Microsoft, Samsung, Walmart and Tesla.

The US and European Union business lobbies in China, and the French and German ambassadors to Beijing, last week called on China to use the expo to announce concrete change. However, the comments were short on specifics. But, he added, it will not change China's reform deficit.

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