China mobilises 60,000 firms to buy foreign goods ahead of import fair to prove its markets are open

As trade war with the US intensifies, companies are being told to spend big before the expo to be held in Shanghai in November

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 July, 2018, 10:02pm
UPDATED : Friday, 27 July, 2018, 10:05pm

China has mobilised 60,000 companies to buy imported goods ahead of the China International Import Expo in November, an event meant to promote the allure of the country’s market, amid simmering trade tensions with the United States.

Vice commerce minister Wang Bingnan told reporters on Friday that Beijing is urging domestic firms to land more deals in the run-up to the expo, which will be held in Shanghai from November 5 to November 10 and which is expected to attract 150,000 visitors.

“The companies are required to highlight their demand for imported products,” the vice-minister said.

“We will mobilise import agents, dealers, wholesalers and retailers, producers and service providers to … make purchases based on their needs,” Wang said.

The US and China are embroiled in an escalating fight over trade that began when the US slapped a 25 per cent punitive tariff on US$34 billion of mainland Chinese goods in early July, saying it was necessary to address a huge trade deficit with China. Beijing retaliated with tariffs of its own on US goods.

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“The import expo will apparently become an event for Chinese companies to spend big money so as to convince foreign sellers that this is a huge market with great potential,” said Yin Ran, a Shanghai-based investor and independent market watcher. “A large volume of transactions can be expected as government officials play an active role in matchmaking deals.”

The expo is seen as more than a commercial event in China, rather as another show of the country’s increasing global influence, according to local officials.

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A total of 2,800 foreign exhibitors, including Fortune 500 firms, will display their latest products and technologies at the expo, Wang said.

Roberto Azevedo, the World Trade Organisation’s director general, will participate in the expo, while one source close to the organisers said German Chancellor Angela Merkel will be among the visitors.