China looks to flip the script with November expo

shangai convention center

shangai convention center

By Cate Hull

China’s evolution as a world trading giant will be on full display in Shanghai Nov. 5-10 when the country hosts the China International Import Expo (CIIE), expected to support trade liberalization and actively open the Chinese market to the world, according to its official website.

A total of 2,800 companies from G20 member states, as well as 50 countries and regions along the Belt and Road, will participate in the expo. Of the world’s 44 least-developed countries, more than 30 will be present at the event.

The expo will be held at the National Exhibition and Convention Center. Shanghai’s municipal government has prepared for the event, renovating the roads around the convention center, developing cellphone applications to better guide traffic around the area, and adding eight bus routes and 100 spare buses.

Light decorations have been added along the banks of the city’s signature Huangpu River, as well as four bridges that span across it. Hundreds of thousands of pots of flowers are dotted across Shanghai.

The city has trained 5,000 volunteers who will offer various services, including language translations.

An estimated 1,500 exhibitors will display their wares. “During the CIIE, we expect to import at least 1,000 kinds of products and services that have not been sold in the domestic market,” said Wang Zhe, head of China’s commercial giant, Suning Holdings Group, “In the next three years, we plan to import goods worth 10 billion Euros (around $11.5B U.S.)

“We appreciate that China is hosting such a big event. All participants have the same keen interest and will support the central and local governments in hosting the CIIE. The core of the event is to promote trade, and I think that is what unites traders, multinational companies, state-owned companies and small- and medium-sized enterprises together. The event creates a platform for dialogues for all stakeholders. Trade is not perfect, and a dialogue can expose what are the challenges ahead and the possible solutions. In our industry, food safety is the key message we hope to deliver, said Robert Aspell, president of Asia Pacific at Cargill.

Andy Ho, CEO of Philips China, will focus on health care at CIIE.  “At the exhibition, we will showcase Philips’ latest products and technologies from both home and abroad to interpret our current business focus — health technology. You can have a deeper understanding of our solutions in health care services, which involve high technologies such as artificial intelligence and big data,” he said.

Victor Fung, chairman of the Fung Group, said the expo is significant. “CIIE is the world’s first large-scale national exhibition to be centered around imports. Driven by continued supply-side structural reform and the comprehensive implementation of innovation-driven development strategies in recent years, China is in the process of developing a new form of consumption-led economic growth.

“Hosting CIIE is not only a highly significant measure in China’s strategy to extend increased access to its market to the rest of the world, it is also very important in promoting this next round of opening up, encouraging economic transformation and helping meet increasingly higher demands resulting from changing consumption trends. The CIIE is providing both Chinese and foreign companies with a new open, broad and efficient platform,” he said.

Cate Hull is the CEO of FreightExchange, a freight and logistics company based in Sydney.