The Third China International Import EXPO (CIIE) with the theme of “New Era, Shared Future” was successfully held in Shanghai from November 5-10, 2020. Although the COVID-19 pandemic and downward pressure on the world economy presented great challenges to the success of this large- scale exhibition but with the concerted efforts by the governments and enterprises of China and relevant countries, the third CIIE successfully achieved the goal of being a “Safe, Splendid, and Successful” event. Enterprises from 124 countries or regions participated in the exhibition, occupying almost 360,000 square meters, the cumulative transaction volume reached 72.6 billion US dollars, an increase of 2.1% over the second session.
With a view to further meeting the demand for foreign products and services, as well as bolstering economic and trade cooperation with countries around the world, China will continue to hold the 4th CIIE in Shanghai from November 5-10, 2021 (official website: www.ciie.org). As an all-weather strategic cooperative partner of Pakistan, China warmly invites Pakistani government and enterprises to participate in this grand event, so that Chinese friends can get to know and purchase more Pakistani products and services on one hand and Pakistani friends can benefit from the huge Chinese market on the other hand.
The CIIE is a grand world event. It is the world’s first national-level exhibition featuring imports.
Personally planned, deployed and promoted by Chinese President Xi Jinping himself, who attended and delivered keynote speeches on the previous three sessions of CIIE. The political, business and academic leaders such as Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan, President Arif Alvi, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, and some Nobel prize laureates attended previous sessions. The turnover of the first three sessions of CIIE reached $ 57.8 billion, $71.1 billion, and $72.6 billion respectively, each session was attended by 400,000 to 500,000 purchasers and more than two hundred Fortune 500 companies or industry-leading enterprises.
Those companies that participated in CIIE have raised their profiles, made connections with big buyers, nailed big orders and even achieved leapfrogging development. The CIIE is also a comprehensive economic and trade event, apart from purchase transactions, each session of CIIE organizes various parallel activities including Hongqiao International Economic Forum, investment promotion fairs, cultural exchange events, and release of research findings activities. At CIIE, insights on development are exchanged, opportunities for investment are found, wonderful cultures are appreciated, and cutting-edge research achievements get under the spotlight.
The CIIE is held against the backdrop of China’s further opening up. Opening up is China’s basic state policy. As President Xi said: “China’s door will only open still wider.” China is establishing a new development pattern of “dual circulation” in which domestic circulation as the mainstay and domestic and international circulation reinforcing each other. Further opening up is an objective need for China’s development. China has a population of 1.4 billion and a middle-income population of more than 400 million, the demand for high-quality foreign products and services is particularly huge. President Xi pointed out that China’s cumulative imports of goods are expected to exceed $22 trillion in the next 10 years. Figures speak loud for China’s need for opening up: the total value of China’s imports and exports of goods in 2020 was 32.16 trillion RMB (about $5 trillion), a record high and an increase of 1.9% over 2019, making China the only major economy with a positive growth in trade in goods. China saw an actual use of 1 trillion RMB (approximately $150 billion) of foreign investment in 2020 and became the world’s largest foreign capital inflow country. The objective facts prove that China cannot be separated from the world and an open China creates important opportunities for the world in return.
The CIIE is conducive to building a community with a shared future for mankind. China firmly supports multilateralism, economic globalization as well as free trade, and opposes self-isolation, arrogance and bullying the weak. The CIIE is initiated by China and shared by the world. It has become a forum for enterprises and people from all over the world to exchange ideas and concepts, a booster for connections between China and the world. The CIIE pays special attention to inviting developing countries to participate and providing them with opportunities to compete with exhibitors from developed countries on the same stage. At each session of CIIE, there are large numbers of unique agricultural products, food, clothing and other products from developing countries and even the least developed countries, then at CIIE these products are known, accepted and purchased by China and the world. Each session of CIIE will provide tailor-made supply-demand matchmaking meetings, business meetings and investment briefings for developing countries in order to help them achieve a better outcome from participating in the CIIE. China hopes that the CIIE platform can help developing countries better share the dividends of globalization, better explore the Chinese market and bring more tangible benefits to developing countries’ enterprises and people. The CIIE pays special attention to livelihoods of the people globally. In 2020, the CIIE also strived to provide a cooperation platform for global fight against the pandemic. In the third CIIE, an exhibition zone of anti-pandemic products was set up for the first time, in which cutting-edge scientific research projects and top innovations were unveiled. Companies which had the most progress in the research and development of vaccines, such as Sinopharm, AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Fosun Pharma, released the latest news at the CIIE, which brought the light of dawn to the victory of fighting against the pandemic.
The CIIE provides pragmatic opportunities for China-Pakistan economic and trade cooperation and Pakistani enterprises to explore the huge Chinese market. The economic and trade cooperation between the two countries is highly complementary and has a huge potential that remains to be developed. The cotton yarn and leather products from Pakistan are important raw materials for related industries in China. Gemstones, fruits, and pine nuts are very popular in China. Majestic snow-capped mountains, deep canyons, brilliant historical sites and charming folkways have great potential to attract large number of Chinese tourists. Two more recent developments could give Pakistan with extra edge in making full use of CIIE. Firstly, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor has entered a stage of improving quality and more efficiency, Pakistan now has a stronger infrastructure and production capability for exporting and competing in the international market. Secondly, with Phase II of China-Pakistan FTA going into full play, around 75% of Pakistan’s exports to China enjoy preferential treatment of zero tariff, a great leap forward from 35% of exports in Phase I. In 2020, Pakistan’s exports to China reached $2.12 billion, a year-on-year increase of 17.5%. With CIIE’s advantages of attracting high attention, concentrated transactions, and gathering big buyers, Pakistan will find an exquisite showcase for its products and services to the Chinese market and a catalyst for market expansion. The CIIE is not a solo by China, but a chorus by all participating countries. It is hoped that Pakistani friends bring a wonderful movement to the 4th CIIE chorus and come back home with large sums of benefits!
The writer is China’s Consul General based in Karachi