Li gives backing to waning trade fair
CHEUNG LAI-KUEN in Guangzhou
Premier Li Peng will open the 80th China Export Commodities Fair in Guangzhou today to show Beijing's full support to the country's ailing export sector.
Sources from the trade fair, commonly referred to as the Guangzhou Trade Fair, said Premier Li, who arrived in the southern capital on Sunday, was accompanied by Vice-Premier Li Lanqing and Foreign Trade and Economic Co-operation Minister Wu Yi .
It is understood Mr Li Lanqing and Ms Wu inspected the trade fair exhibits yesterday.
Mainland observers said the appearance of the state leaders was aimed at lending their support to the largest export fair in China, given the fair had been gradually losing its importance while national export growth was sluggish.
The twice-yearly trade fair was once China's most important export fair and has accumulated export orders of US$190 billion since its debut in 1957.
Its importance has diminished since China opened more trading channels with foreigners.
China has recorded negative export growth since November last year as a result of Beijing's cuts to export tax rebates and the poor competitiveness of China-made products, but official statistics indicate export growth has recovered since June.
Trade officials admitted the export sector was facing many difficulties and the only solution was to produce more higher value-added products.
More than 20 ministerial and 40 provincial officials arrived in Guangzhou to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the trade fair.
The fair will run until next Saturday.
It will be the largest so far with a total display area of 228,000 square metres and more than 3,000 companies taking part.