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Officials, executives hail opening-up as pivotal for equitable development

By He Wei in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2018-11-06 08:10
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John Denton, secretary general of the International Chamber of Commerce, speaks at the Trade and Opening parallel session on the sidelines of the China International Import Expo in Shanghai on Monday. [Photo by Zhu Xingxin/China Daily]

Government officials and business executives hailed the role of opening-up in driving trade and empowering nations, saying it is pivotal to accelerating inclusive, equitable and sustainable development.

In a parallel session themed "Trade and Opening" on the sidelines of the China International Import Expo, or CIIE, participants touted opening-up as injecting fresh vigor into economic growth and regarded the event as a novel catalyst for the next wave of globalization.

The participation of the CIIE "is a testament to the close and goodwill relationship between Tonga and China," said Semisi Kioa Lafu Sika, Tonga's deputy prime minister and minister of tourism and infrastructure. "We also praise the Belt and Road Initiative, through which we can seek new untapped opportunities in areas like tourism."

Opening-up provides fertile ground for trade and investment, both of which are "closely linked to industrial development ... and create more room for innovation", said Li Yong, director-general of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization.

He made reference to the employment of technologies such as e-commerce and blockchain to facilitate small and medium-sized enterprises' entry into new markets, which has proved to reap rewards in China and other developing and emerging economies.

William Ding, chief executive of Chinese internet firm NetEase Inc, which runs one of the country's leading cross-border platforms, Kaola, said e-commerce has far-reaching potential to revolutionize business models, uproot manufacturing cycles and help SMEs move up the global value chain.

Experts also said that peace often goes hand in hand with opening-up and trade. History suggests that the free flow of goods normally leads to a greater probability of peace, security and stable multilateralism, according to John Denton, secretary-general of the International Chamber of Commerce.

Reaching out to billions of women with its beauty and skin care products, L'Oreal is "a perfect example of globalization ... that has benefited from the climate of peace in the past decade", said the company's chairman and CEO, Jean-Paul Agon.

"President Xi Jinping has stated very clearly the firm determination of China to open up even more ... and to be the new champion of globalization and free trade worldwide. That's exactly what the world needs right now, and L'Oreal is here to support this," he said.

The current trade friction may provide an impetus for the world to come together to look at a new form of multilateralism, said Victor K. Fung, chairman of Fung Group. There are already good starts like the BRI, he said.

"President Xi has assured all of us of the continued opening and reform of China. The opening up of the consumer market will be a main driving force for growth ... and give us new momentum toward prosperity," he said.

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