Ambassador of China Lin Songtian during the 70th Anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China celebrations in Pretoria. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency (ANA)
As South Africa will host the second  Investment Conference, the second China  International Import Expo (CIIE) will also be  held in Shanghai on 5-7th November. These two  grand events not only are a coincidence of timing,  but also highlight that China and South Africa,  as two major emerging markets, firmly support  trade liberalization and economic globalization,  and demonstrate our two countries’ solemn  commitment and concrete actions to open up our  markets to the world.

As a pioneering undertaking in the history  of international trade, the CIIE is the world’s  first ever state-level import expo. The first  CIIE held in Shanghai in 2018 achieved great  success, reaching deals worth of $57.8 billion.  Its unprecedentedly large scale, high-end expo  and fruitful outcomes have been universally  acknowledged by the international community.

Many of the high-quality products and services  introduced into China through the first CIIE not  only meet the market demand for upgrading  consumption and expanding imports in China,  but also enable the rest of the world to share the  market opportunities of China’s efforts to expand  opening-up and promote cooperation.

The second CIIE, building on the success of the  first one, will be larger in scale, better in quality,  more innovative and high-end, thus holding a
promising future. The World Trade Organization,  the United Nations Conference on Trade and  Development, the United Nations Industrial  Development Organization, the United Nations  Development Program, the Food and Agriculture  Organization of the United Nations and the  International Trade Center are all the cooperative  partners of the second CIIE. 

Up to now, more  than 170 countries (regions), international  organizations, over 3 000 exhibitors and more  than 500 000 purchasers have signed up for the  event, covering such areas as manufacturing,  trade, services, e-commerce and cross-border  platforms. The number of participating
enterprises and the number of the participating  world top 500 and industry-leading enterprises  have both exceeded the first CIIE.

The second Hongqiao International Economic  Forum will be held on the sidelines of the second  CIIE. Themed “Opening-up and Innovation
for Win-Win Cooperation”, this year’s Forum  features higher level, updated topics, a wide range  of activities and greater popularity. More than  3,000 representatives, including heads of state  and government from many countries as well  as international organizations such as the WTO,  the UNCTD, the Asian Infrastructure Investment  Bank and the ITC will attend the Forum upon  invitation to hold discussions on such major
issues as promoting economic globalization and  building an open world economy for common  development.

The huge success of the first CIIE and the  unprecedented representation of the second  CIIE with widespread global influence fully  demonstrate the world’s confidence in China’s  reform and opening-up and its economic  prospects, as well as the world’s expectation  to embrace the opportunities generated by the  Chinese market. 

According to a report by the  CNBC website, the China-US trade frictions did  not dampen the US companies’ enthusiasm and  interest in the Chinese market. Last year, more  than 170 US companies participated in the first  CIIE with an exhibition area of over 36,000  square meters, ranking among the top three. This  year, the US companies are even more active in  signing up for the event, with the exhibition area  enlarging by 35%.

The CIIE is not a solo of China, but a chorus of  the world. Our goal is to “buy from the world and  benefit the world”, provide effective channels f or the goods, technologies and services from  other countries to enter the Chinese market, build  an open platform for all countries to strengthen  cooperation and exchanges and engage in  international trade, and offer international public  goods to promote economic globalization.

After more than four decades of rapid  development through reform and opening-up,  China has become the largest industrial country,  the largest trader in goods, and the largest holder  of foreign exchange reserves in the world. With  1.4 billion Chinese people and 400-million  middle income population, China will soon  become the world’s largest consumer market.

In the next 15 years, China’s imports of goods  and services will exceed $30 trillion and $10  trillion respectively. More importantly, China  always pursues the policy of opening-up and  has become the largest trading partner of more  than 100 countries, providing a huge market and  immeasurable opportunities for the world. 

In order to put its own interests first and  make itself great again, some country pursues  protectionism and bullying and launched global  trade wars, which has dealt a heavy blow to  the multilateral free trade system. Against such  background, it is of great significance for China  to hold the second CIIE. It speaks volume about  China’s firm commitment as a responsible  major country to win-win cooperation for  common development, but also the international  community’s resolve to opposing trade  protectionism, and promoting international  trade liberalization, investment facilitation and  economic globalization.

Openness has always been the hallmark of  contemporary China. The CIIE is a landmark  measure taken by China to promote a new  round of high-level opening-up. It shows that  China will never cease the process of reform  and opening-up in the new era. 

As President Xi  Jinping said, “China’s door will not be closed - it  will only open still wider”. China will continue  to open wider to the outside world and welcomes  all countries, especially South Africa and other  developing countries in Africa, to get onboard the  express train of China’s economic development.

China-South Africa trade and economic  cooperation has been growing vigorously and  achieved fruitful outcomes, with the scale and  areas expanding and the models more diversified.

China has remained the largest trading partner  of South Africa for ten consecutive years and  South Africa has remained the largest trading  partner of China in Africa for nine years in a  row. South Africa is the first African country to  export its beef to China and its export of mineral  products, fruits, wine and seafood to China has  been increasing rapidly. 

The Chinese government  has taken a series of positive steps, such as taking  the lead in lifting the ban on South African beef  exports to China and sending a large government  economic and trade delegation to South Africa,  with the aim to proactively open up its market  to South Africa and encourage South Africa to  export more new products to China, which have  been warmly welcomed and echoed positively in  South Africa.

The CIIE has become a new important  opportunity for South Africa to expand its exports  to China. The first CIIE held in 2018 received  positive response and was actively participated  by South African enterprises. High-quality South  African products and services such as wine,  tea, seafood, cosmetics and mineral products  were displayed in the Chinese market and well  received by the Chinese consumers.

China welcomes the participation of the South  African government and business community in  the second CIIE and more high-quality South  African goods and services to enter the Chinese  market. I am glad to see that Deputy Minister  of Trade Industry and Economic Development  Department Nomalungela Gina will lead a South  African government delegation composed of  more than 60 members to attend the second CIIE  in Shanghai. Over 60 South African companies  will participate in the Country Exhibition and  Business Exhibition. 

The Business Exhibition  covers an area of more than 300 square meters  and the numbers of both the South African  exhibitors and exhibition area rank first among the  participating West Asian and African countries,  covering such fields as agricultural products,  food processing, finance, jewelry and equipment  manufacturing. The South African companies  will also participate in the 20-plus side events  including the exhibition products promotion and  trade fair.

It is our firm belief that the second CIIE will  provide a broader platform for South African  companies to enter China’s huge market and we  wish the South African participating companies  could achieve better sales performance and win- win cooperation for common development.

In his keynote speech at the opening ceremony  of the first CIIE, President Xi Jinping pointed  out that “the CIIE, an event to be held on an  annual basis, will feature good performance,  good results and continued success in the years  to come”. China is ready to take the CIIE as an  opportunity to work with other countries to build  an open and win-win world economy, share our  development fruits and opportunities, and make  greater contributions to building a community  with a shared future for mankind.

H.E. Lin Songtian is Ambassador of the  People’s Republic of China to the Republic  of South Africa.