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Keynote Speech by H.E. Li Keqiang, Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, at the Opening Ceremony of the 130th Session of China Import and Export Fair and the Pearl River International Trade Forum

Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to join you in the beautiful city of Guangzhou for the 130th Session of China Import and Export Fair and the Pearl River International Trade Forum. President Xi Jinping sent a congratulatory message to this session of the Fair, and reiterated China’s unwavering resolve to expand opening-up and promote free trade. On behalf of the Chinese government, I wish to extend a warm welcome to all participating guests, and express hearty appreciation to friends from various sectors who have long cared for and supported China’s foreign trade and opening-up endeavors.

Committed to its motto of “Canton Fair, Global Share”, China Import and Export Fair, also known as the Canton Fair, has been held non-stop amid shifting circumstances for 65 years, and has scored remarkable successes. The Fair’s annual transaction volume surged from 87 million US dollars in the inception to 59 billion dollars before COVID-19, an expansion of nearly 680 times. The Fair this year is held both online and on site for the first time in its history. This is a creative response in an unusual time. The Canton Fair once again opens wide to welcome friends from around the world, and hopes to make the participation of all a most rewarding and worthy experience. One may say the Fair’s history is an epitome of China’s ceaseless effort to open itself and integrate into the world economy. The Fair has also witnessed how companies from across the world shared in China’s development opportunities and achieved mutual benefit and win-win outcomes.

As ancient Chinese observed, “Trade in food and goods is key to the people’s well-being.” International economic and trade exchanges are what countries need as they leverage respective strengths and complement one another. Such exchanges are also an important engine propelling global growth and human progress. A review of human history shows that worldwide economic booms and great prosperity are often accompanied by rapid trade expansion. Right now, we are still seeing recurrent COVID flare-ups in the world and complicated and profound changes in the international environment. Countries around the world live in the same global village, and our safety and security are closely interconnected. In the face of difficulties and challenges, we must show a will of solidarity, an inclusive frame of mind, a resolve for openness and sincerity in cooperation.

— We must put life first and jointly defeat the pandemic. Containing the virus and protecting people’s life and health remain a high priority for the international community. We need to act in the spirit of science, follow its laws, intensify international cooperation on vaccines and drugs, oppose “vaccine nationalism” and close the “immunization gap”. China will do its best to provide anti-COVID supplies and export vaccines and work with the rest of the international community to beat the coronavirus, a common enemy of humanity.

— We must pursue openness and cooperation and jointly recover the economy. Greater openness and integration among countries is a trend of the times. We need to make the most of every opportunity, meet challenges collaboratively, uphold free and fair trade, and enhance policy coordination. We need to increase the output and supply of major commodities and key spare parts, raise the supply capacity for important goods, and facilitate unimpeded international logistics, to ensure stable and smooth operation of global industrial and supply chains.

— We must embrace inclusiveness and shared benefits and promote common development. People in all countries are entitled to a better life. The progress of humanity hinges on the shared progress of all countries. We need to tap into our respective strengths and jointly enlarge the pie of the global market, invigorate all formats of global cooperation and enrich the mechanisms for global sharing, to make economic globalization more open, inclusive, balanced and beneficial for all.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Faced with a complex and stern international environment as well as multiple shocks from the pandemic and severe flooding this year, China has risen up to the challenges and difficulties, while maintaining regular COVID-19 response. Its economy has sustained a steady recovery and major economic indicators have been running within an appropriate range. In the first nine months this year, more than 78,000 new market entities were registered on an average daily basis, a show of rising economic vitality at the micro level. Employment is picking up, with over ten million new urban jobs added. Economic performance has kept improving, as evidenced by fairly fast growth in industrial corporate profit, fiscal revenue and household income. Although economic growth leveled off to some extent in the third quarter due to various reasons, the economy has shown strong resilience and great vibrancy, and we have the ability and confidence to meet the targets and tasks set for the year.

Having said that, we are also aware that China’s economic recovery is not yet firmly established and is still uneven. Challenges to keeping economic operation stable are increasing. Externally, there are quite many destabilizing factors and uncertainties. Due to the impact of such factors as price hikes of commodities and surge of logistics costs, the operating costs of lower-stream businesses and micro, small and medium-sized enterprises have been rising. New challenges emerged in energy supply. Sporadic COVID infections have constrained the recovery of consumer markets and consumer services. Some market entities face more difficulties in business operation and market expectations are quite fragile.

For China, development is the foundation and key to overcoming all challenges. We will ground our efforts in the reality that China is at a new development stage, apply the new development philosophy, foster a new development paradigm and promote high-quality development. To achieve these goals, we will stay focused on managing our own affairs well, keep major economic indicators within an appropriate range and sustain the steady growth of China’s economy in the long run.

— We will harness our industrial and market strengths to deepen economic and trade cooperation with the wider world. China is both a major exporter and a major importer. China’s industrial system is an important part of the global industrial chain. In recent years, China’s imports have on average grown faster than its exports, and the imports as a share of the global total rose to 11.5 percent last year. We will keep our foreign trade policies consistent and stable, and continue to import more quality products and services. We will work faster to boost foreign trade in an innovative way. A new number of integrated pilot zones for cross-border e-commerce will be established before the end of the year, realizing full coverage of all cities in Guangdong and other province. Development of new business forms such as overseas warehouses will be accelerated and overseas smart logistics platforms will be promoted. We will step up international cooperation on trade digitization and develop a group of pacesetter zones for digitization of global trade in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and other areas. We will facilitate more smooth foreign trade, promote cooperation with trading partners on online documents verification for customs clearance and lower the compliance costs of import and export.

— We will continue to foster a market-oriented, world-class business environment governed by a sound legal framework to see that China remains a fertile ground for foreign investment. China has rich labor and talent resources, and a full-fledged industrial supporting system. As China’s industrial transformation and upgrading accelerates, massive demand for investment will be generated. We will further shorten the negative lists on the market access of foreign investment, zero out the manufacturing items on the negative list in pilot free trade zones, and keep easing access to the services sector. We will ensure high-standard implementation of the post-establishment national treatment for foreign investors, and see to it that foreign-invested firms enjoy equal treatment in terms of access to factors of production, qualification approval, business operation, standard setting and government procurement. We will support foreign investors in increasing investment in such areas as medium- and high-end manufacturing and modern services and in the central and western regions, and provide them with equal treatment in terms of review and support regarding land use and environmental evaluation. We will encourage foreign-invested firms to undertake commissioned research and development business and projects in China’s National Science and Technology Plan. We will continue to earnestly implement the Foreign Investment Law and its supporting regulations, intensify efforts against monopoly and unfair competition in accordance with law, resolutely combat intellectual property violations, and foster a level playing field where all businesses, both domestic and foreign-invested ones, are treated as equals.

— We will take an active part in improving international economic and trade rules, and advance trade and investment liberalization and facilitation. The rules-based and WTO-centered multilateral trading system is the cornerstone of economic globalization and free trade. It is also an important safeguard for promoting the steady growth of the world economy. This year marks the 20th anniversary of China’s accession to the WTO. We have earnestly fulfilled our commitments made upon accession. To date, China’s overall tariff rate has come down to 7.4 percent, a fairly low level in the world. China supports reforming the WTO as needed, yet such reform must adhere to the basic principles and core values of the organization, fully accommodate the interests and concerns of all parties, and help bridge the North-South gap. China is open to and welcomes all regional free trade arrangements that conform to WTO principles. We will work with all relevant parties for the early entry into force and implementation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), further lower our tariff level and facilitate customs clearance. We will actively promote the process of joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), conclude more high-standard free trade agreements and strengthen cooperation in emerging areas such as global digital and green governance. We will better bring out the pioneering role of free trade ports and pilot free trade zones, formulate and implement policies that are aligned with high-standard economic and trade rules and advance opening-up on an institutional basis, and promote coordinated development of the special customs regulation zones and pilot free trade zones.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Reform and opening-up is China’s fundamental state policy and an underlying force driving China’s future development. China’s development will always be advanced amid reform and taken forward amid opening-up. We will work with countries around the world to share development opportunities and draw up a development blueprint in pursuit of greater development.

Today is the Double Ninth Festival, a traditional Chinese festival that people celebrate by climbing to high places. Guangdong is a highland in the country’s reform and opening-up. I hope the province will continue to step up and lead the country in this endeavor. China will also keep scaling new heights.

I now declare open the 130th Session of China Import and Export Fair!