More than 160 Hong Kong businesses to take part in import expo in Shanghai as China bids to show eagerness for foreign investment amid US trade war

  • More than 160 Hong Kong businesses to take part in fair in Shanghai
  • Commerce minister stresses city’s role as strategic gateway to country
PUBLISHED : Monday, 22 October, 2018, 8:30am
UPDATED : Monday, 22 October, 2018, 10:44am

More than 160 Hong Kong businesses will take part in the inaugural China International Import Expo next month, with the country’s biggest trade fair of the year poised to demonstrate the country’s eagerness for foreign investment amid its economic stand-off with the US, the city’s minister has said.

Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau Tang-wah said Hong Kong had been and would continue to be a strategic gateway and important hub connecting China to the world.

A total of 2,800 companies from 130 countries are expected to take part in the expo in Shanghai from November 5 to 10. In the past, China-based trade fairs have emphasised what firms from the country could sell to the world.

In contrast, this year’s event is aimed at touting foreign companies selling to China, especially against the backdrop of the country’s ongoing trade war with the US.

“Our involvement in this expo has demonstrated our mission as the country’s most open and international city,” Yau said recently. “Hong Kong was the first gateway for the country when China launched reforms and opened up 40 years ago.”

The minister said the city had “always played a unique role over the years”.

Some 80 countries are due to take part in the expo’s pavilion for countries to highlight their achievements in developing trade and investment.

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A Hong Kong exhibition area will be arranged inside the China pavilion by the government, Yau noted. It will feature the theme “Hong Kong IN” in a reference to how the city has helped “bring in” the country. Multimedia technology including 3D mapping will show Hong Kong’s major infrastructure projects, products and inventions, as well as its participation in national development strategies such as the trade-focused Belt and Road Initiative and the “Greater Bay Area”, which aspires to integrate Hong Kong, Macau and nine cities in Guangdong province into an innovation hub rivalling Silicon Valley.

The list of participants includes more than 160 Hong Kong businesses, including 22 food companies and firms providing professional services in areas such as logistics, engineering, legal, accounting and insurance, Yau added.

“The country’s doors will only open wider and wider to foreign investment,” Yau quoted Chinese President Xi Jinping as saying at the Boao Forum for Asia in April.

The minister believed the mega expo, which Xi announced last year, would be significant because it could help the world see China’s determination to open up economically amid a rise in protectionism.

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.

“As the largest import market in the world ... our country’s move to further open up the market is a positive message to the multilateral trade system,” Yau said.