South Africa is one of the Guests of Honor at the CIIE (XINHUA)
As a pioneering step in the history of international trade, the China International Import Expo (CIIE) is the world's first ever import-themed national-level expo.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and leaders from governments, businesses, and international organizations from 172 countries and regions attended the expo, which ran from November 5 to 10. Over 3,600 global businesses were represented, of which over 200 are Fortune 500 companies.
The CIIE, held in Shanghai, was planned to proactively open China's market, firmly support trade liberalization and economic globalization, and to pursue win-win cooperation for common development with the world.
These goals are perfectly aligned with a year that marks the 40th anniversary of China's reform and opening up. Over the past 40 years, China has achieved rapid increase in GDP growth, averaging an annual growth rate of 9.5 percent. China's foreign trade volume has been growing at 14.5 percent per year. The life of the nearly 1.4 billion Chinese people has been transformed from austerity to moderate prosperity, lifting over 700 million out of poverty, and enabling over 400 million to successfully become middle-class population. Through reform and opening up, China has fundamentally ensured the basic human rights to employment, housing, food, health services and education for its 1.4 billion population, setting a great example for the world.
Today, as the world's second largest economy and the main engine for the global economic development, China has for many years maintained over 30 percent contribution to world economic growth, and remained the largest trading partner of over 100 countries across the world, including the United States, Russia, Japan, South Africa and European countries.
Open world economy
As a beneficiary of reform and opening up, China is also surely a staunch supporter of an open world economy, and of further reform and opening up. Since joining the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001, China has lowered its overall tariff from 15.3 percent to 9.8 percent, and according to the WTO, China's weighted tariff has fallen to 4.4 percent, which means that China has fully fulfilled its commitment to all WTO members.
Moving forward, the country has committed to continuing tariff reduction to more imported goods. In 2017, China's contribution to global import and export registered 10.2 percent and 12.8 percent respectively, ranking the second and the first place globally. In the same year, China's consumer goods retail sales recorded close to $6 trillion, making it the world's second largest consumer market. On average, Chinese citizens spend about $200 billion yearly abroad, purchasing large amounts of high-end consumer goods.
China is firmly committed to reform and opening up and is willing to share with the world its huge and rapidly growing business opportunities, so as to achieve common prosperity. Already the world's second largest importer and consumer market, China, according to an estimate, will see its goods imports exceed $30 trillion in the next 15 years, while its services imports will exceed $10 trillion, offering a tremendous market for world business production and exports.
Protectionism a failed concept
Today, a certain country, in order to pursue its short-sighted selfish interests, has gone out of its way to launch protectionist attacks around the world, willfully resorting to the weapons of tariff, and recklessly sabotaging the rule-based international free trade regime. These moves have been met with the strongest opposition and condemnation by the peoples of the world. We firmly believe that a trade war should be rejected because there will be no winner. Economic hegemony is even more objectionable, as it will undermine the collective interests of the international community; those who pursue this course will only end up hurting themselves.
Under such circumstances, it is meaningful and significant for China to take the lead to host the CIIE. It will not only show the world our commitment to win-win cooperation for common development and our determination and resolve for further reform and opening up, but also create fresh opportunities and set up new platforms for countries around the world to grow their exports to China, so as to share business and growth opportunities together.
Chinese President Xi has made the commitment that, "the door of China's opening up will not close. It will only open wider." China stands ready to share its development opportunities with the rest of the world. Moving forward, the Chinese Government will continue to relax market access, improve investment environment, and strengthen protection of intellectual property rights. We will continue to reduce tariff on automobiles and consumer goods, and take active steps to further expand imports. These measures will greatly facilitate market access and exports growth, and create new business opportunities for foreign companies to the Chinese market.
The Chinese Government will firmly hold high the banner of peace, development and win-win cooperation, follow the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, and leverage the opportunities of the Belt and Road Initiative and the CIIE, so as to continue the efforts in promoting a new type of international relations featuring mutual respect, fairness, justice and win-win cooperation and to build a community with a shared future for mankind. This way, China can make greater contributions to world peace and common prosperity.
Growing China-South Africa ties
China has, for nine years running, remained South Africa's largest trading partner, and South Africa has, for 8 years in a row, remained China's biggest trading partner in Africa. In 2017, China-South Africa two-way trade reached $39.17 billion, a 26-fold increase since the beginning of diplomatic ties in 1998. China is willing to prioritize sharing its 1.4-billion-population market with South Africa. We will continue to take active measures to open up the Chinese market and encourage more South African exports to China.
South Africa is already the first African country to export beef to China, and its exports of minerals, fruits, wine, and marine products are also growing fast. We look forward to more South African businesses seizing the opportunities of the CIIE to enter the Chinese market, and to harvest more fruitful results from China-South Africa friendly and mutually beneficial cooperation.
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