China’s President Xi Jinping delivers a speech during the opening of the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) Annual Conference 2018 in Boao, south China’s Hainan province on April 10, 2018.
AFP | Getty Images
China launched the first import expo last November in a bid to promote the country as a buyer of the world’s goods, in contrast to the longstanding perception of it primarily being a manufacturer. The world’s second-largest economy is also trying to rely more on domestic consumption amid a slowdown in its growth rate. Imports in U.S. dollar terms fell 8.5% in September, more than expected. Exports also dropped a disappointing 3.2%.
Portraying itself as an importer also helps China in ongoing trade talks with the U.S.
One of the sticking points of the dispute is the U.S. trade surplus with China. Beijing has said it will increase purchases of American farm products as both sides seek some temporary resolution in the tensions.
American companies will have the largest exhibition space of any country at this year’s expo, according to China’s Ministry of Commerce. The ministry said that 192 U.S. companies will attend, up from 174 last year.
That said, the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai said in its 2019 China business report that more than two-thirds of its members did not think participating in the expo was very important. A possible reason for the lack of interest was many members manufacture in China, the chamber said, noting only a quarter of its members intend to participate this year.