President Xi Jinping said on Wednesday that China's imports in the coming decade are forecast to top $22 trillion as he hailed the nation's vast market as the world's most promising.
Xi made the remark as he spoke via video link at the opening ceremony of the third China International Import Expo, held in Shanghai.
He said that this year's CIIE, convened as COVID-19 is hitting countries hard and dealing a heavy blow to the world economy, demonstrates China's sincere desire to share its market opportunities with the world and contribute to global economic recovery.
Noting that China has continued to quicken its pace of opening-up this year, Xi announced an array of new measures for expanding the all-around opening-up of the country, which has a middle-income group that alone exceeds 400 million.
The president pledged that China will introduce a negative list for cross-border services trade and open still wider in areas like the digital economy and the internet. It will also deepen reform and innovation in trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, and produce institutional innovations to support an open economy of higher standards.
China will shorten its list of technologies prohibited or restricted from import to create a favorable environment for the free flow of technologies across borders, Xi said.
He said a range of pro-business relief policies adopted by China in the wake of COVID-19 will apply equally to all companies registered in China as the nation keeps improving its business environment.
It will continue to make its foreign-related legal framework more open and transparent, strengthen intellectual property protection, better protect the lawful rights and interests of foreign investors and provide them with more high-quality services, he said.
Xi said that China also stands ready to sign high-standard free-trade agreements with more countries. China will work for the early signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and speed negotiations on a China-European Union investment treaty and a China-Japan-Republic of Korea free trade agreement, he said.
Regarding China's new development pattern with the domestic market as the mainstay and domestic and international markets reinforcing each other, Xi said, "What we envision is not a development loop behind closed doors, but more open domestic and international circulation."
China will explore more efficient ways to connect domestic and foreign markets and share factors of production and resources, he said.
"Our aim is to turn the China market into a market for the world, a market shared by all, and a market accessible to all. This way, we will be able to bring more positive energy to the global community," Xi said.
The Chinese economy is steadily picking up despite the impact of COVID-19, as shown by the positive overall growth in the first three quarters, including 0.7 percent growth in foreign trade and a 5.2 percent rise in foreign investment paid for projects.
The president also stressed that the overwhelming trend for countries to move toward openness and cooperation remains unchanged, as he called on major economies and developing countries to take joint responsibility to open up and promote world development.
Foreign leaders from Pakistan, South Africa, Chile, Uzbekistan, Serbia, Spain, Papua New Guinea and Hungary also gave speeches via video link at the ceremony.
Pakistani President Arif Alvi said in his speech that the CIIE is important "to clearly understand what needs to be sent to China, and what China is going to export".
The expo "takes place despite the challenging circumstances", however, it is "more important than ever to promote international trade," South African President Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa said.
Hubertus Troska, a Daimler AG board member responsible for China, said that in light of the pandemic, this year's CIIE is a strong sign of China's further recovery from COVID-19 and its determination to allow further opening-up, which benefits international companies.
"We are happy to see that the expo is being held as scheduled in a safe and orderly manner, and it fills our hearts with confidence," he said, adding the company is determined to pursue its strategy of further investment and expanding its footprint in China.
Jean-Paul Agon, chairman and CEO of L'Oreal, the French cosmetics giant which is participating in the CIIE for a third consecutive year, said Xi's speech resonated deeply.
"As a company, we are especially impressed by the speed, efficacy and pragmatism of the Chinese government in helping businesses operate through the storm. Thanks to government incentives and the resilience of its people, consumption in China has rebounded quickly and strongly. This reaffirms our belief that nothing can stop Chinese people in their pursuit of a better life," Agon said.