China's president vows to raise imports amid trade dispute with US
China's president vows to raise imports amid trade dispute with US
Xi has said the expo proves China is willing to reduce its huge trade surpluses with other countries More
05 November, 2018, 21:28
The two countries have set tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars of each other's goods and U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to slap tariffs on the remainder of China's $500 billion-plus exports to the United States if the trade dispute can not be resolved.
In October, Ma told World Trade Organization delegates that the Geneva-based body has come under threat from Trump's efforts to recast the global trading system in a way that he says will be more balanced toward the U.S. The American president has this year targeted allies and adversaries alike, threatening tariffs on all of China's exports, proposing levies on European car-makers and saying he could leave the WTO, which he has described as "unfair".
U.S. President Donald Trump has railed against China for what he sees as intellectual property theft, entry barriers to U.S. business and a gaping U.S. trade deficit.
Xi's remarks come at a time of heightened tension between China and some of its biggest trade partners, particularly the United States, which has imposed tariffs on $250-billion worth of Chinese goods so far.
Ma, the billionaire owner of China's largest online shopping portal, made the headline-grabbing job-creation promise to Trump a year ago, when Beijing was still courting the then-newly elected president.
Xi's government is emphasizing the promise of China's growing consumer market to help defuse complaints Beijing abuses the global trading system by reneging on promises to open its industries.
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, saying it too often fails to deliver on promises.
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But US officials say that approach amounts to China buying its way out of trouble with a short-term import surge rather than real change, and Washington snubbed the gathering by not sending high-level representation.
Xi said China would seek to "step up" moves to stimulate domestic consumption of imports, lower tariffs, ease customs clearance procedures, and implement harsh punishments for intellectual property infringements, among other measures. Nearly half of companies surveyed in June by the European Chamber of Commerce in China said they missed out on business opportunities due to regulatory barriers or market access restrictions, and they expected obstacles to increase during the next five years.
The event is being attended by several foreign heads of government including Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Pakistani premier Imran Khan. The Chinese government's top diplomat, State Councillor Wang Yi, said in March that China would import $8 trillion of goods in the next five years.
China is hosting the first ever import expo that is attended by hundreds of companies and participants from over 130 countries among them Kenyan horticultural farmers and traders.
Swiss President Alain Berset did not make the trip to China, despite being announced as among attendees by China's foreign ministry last week.
Exhibitors from around 140 countries and regions will be on hand, including 404 from Japan, the most of any country.
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