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    Xi Opens Shanghai Int’l Trade Show as China Marks 20 Years at WTO

    Some 3,000 companies from 127 countries and regions are participating in this year’s China International Import Expo.

    Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Thursday that China had fully delivered on its accession commitments to the World Trade Organization (WTO) while addressing the opening ceremony of the 4th China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai via video.

    Xi said China will participate in negotiations on the digital economy, trade and environment, industrial subsidies, and state-owned enterprises with an “active and open attitude.” Over the past 20 years, China’s overall tariff rate has dropped from 15.3% to 7.4%, lower than the 9.8% the country promised when it joined the WTO in 2001, he said.

    China will also further shorten the negative list for foreign investment and expand and open up the service sector, including telecommunications and healthcare, in an orderly manner, Xi noted.

    “We must stay on top of the prevailing trend of economic globalization, and support countries around the world in opening up wider while rejecting unilateralism and protectionism,” Xi said. “This is significantly important if we are to take humanity to a better future.” 

    China’s entry into the WTO has been an important factor in its rapid development in goods trade over the past decades. In 2020, China’s imports and exports volume totaled 32.16 trillion yuan ($5 trillion), compared with 4.22 trillion yuan in 2001.

    Between 2001 and 2018, China’s imports of goods grew at an average annual rate of 13.6%, higher than the global average of 6.8%. From 2009 to 2018, China’s merchandise imports increased by 1.12 times, reaching $2.14 trillion.

    Following China’s accession to the WTO, it passed the enterprise income tax in 2007 — taking effect on Jan. 1, 2018 — for both domestic and foreign enterprises in a bid to promote fair competition. Since then, China is currently home to over 1 million foreign-funded enterprises.

    Shanghai hosted the first CIIE in 2018 to connect global businesses to the Chinese market. Nearly 3,000 foreign companies from some 127 countries and regions will showcase their products and services at this year’s trade show which runs through Nov. 10.

    (Header image: An exterior view of the China International Import Expo’s exhibition center in Shanghai, Nov. 4, 2021. People Visual)