Published On: Mon, Nov 5th, 2018

China Wants To Market Itself As An Import Nation

As of Monday, 3000 foreign companies want to present themselves to Chinese business partners at the world’s largest buyers’ fair in Shanghai. Economics Minister Schramböck calls for a “clear signal” from Beijing for more openness.

China International Import Expo

Street sweepers once again rinse the last dirt off the streets. They are decorated with 6700 specially purchased flower boxes and more than 1900 newly planted trees. Since the early hours of the morning, police cars and soldiers are patrolling the Qingpu District of Shanghai. And even the four-and-a-half-hour high-speed train ride from Beijing to Shanghai is dedicated to China International Import Expo (CIIE). “New age, common future!” Is the slogan that is prominently advertised everywhere.

The importance of the big event for the Chinese leadership is not to be overlooked. There is a state of emergency in the 24-million-inhabitant metropolis. China’s state and party leader Xi Jinping will personally open the world’s largest buyers’ fair of government and business representatives on Monday.

Also, Minister of Economic Affairs Margarete Schramböck will attend the ceremony. She arrived with a delegation of 22 companies to open the Austria pavilion. They want to present themselves in Shanghai to potential Chinese business partners. The trip should serve as a “door opener” for the companies to China, said Schramböck on Sunday in Shanghai. It was important to show presence in China. Only then could long-term business relationships be established. The Austrian start-ups or the post office, for example, want to learn from the Chinese in terms of online trading.

For a year now, the People’s Republic and its diplomatic representatives abroad have aggressively stirred up the CIIE promotional drum, which will attract 3,000 companies from 130 countries. The time for Beijing could not be more symbolic: international pressure on China to open its markets is growing.

China’s growth fell to 6.5 percent in the third quarter, its lowest level since 2009. The downturn is partly due to Beijing’s efforts to reduce debt and new regulations, including stricter environmental regulations.

The Chinese government is trying hard to calm down international investors and the domestic private sector. For the fourth quarter could be even more uncomfortable for them: Then the impact of the imposed by US President Donald Trump punitive tariffs on imports worth $250 billion for the first time in the growth figures.

China now wants to send a clear message with the fair: The gates to the market with 1.4 billion people would be wide open for foreign imports. Xi is again expected to reaffirm in his speech on Monday that he plans to reduce China’s US trade $423 billion surpluses. But the doubts abroad that such promises are meant seriously, were last grown.

“The CIIE can reduce the trade deficit with a few countries, but we do not believe it can solve the structural reform deficit China is currently suffering from,” the EU Chamber of Commerce complained in a press release this week. It was referring to a June poll. Almost half of the European companies complained about regulatory hurdles and market access restrictions. They fear that the barriers will even get worse over the next five years. Schramböck also demanded on Sunday from China a “clear signal” in the direction of the European Union: the People’s Republic must “fulfill their promises” in terms of investor protection and the protection of intellectual property.

The US government has announced that it will not send a high-ranking government official in protest. Beijing criticized the move as “difficult to understand”.

But if you believe the rumors, Beijing has already made sure in the run-up that it can record the fair as a success: contracts, which are solemnly signed on Tuesday between Chinese state-owned enterprises and foreign companies, have long stood under the roof. Economics Minister Schramböck reports similar things: such official occasions increased the speed of the deal.

Sources: Die Presse

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