6 November 2018

Sierra Leone: XI Urges Countries to Improve Business Environment

Shanghai — Chinese President Xi Jinping has urged world leaders who were present at the China International Import Expo (CIIE) to strive to improve the business environment in their various countries.

CIIE provides a platform for countries and companies to bring their best products to sell to the buyers in China and from across the world.

The Chinese president, who was making his keynote address during the opening ceremony of the CIIE at the National Exhibition and Convention Center in Shanghai Monday, 5th November, also said all countries must stick to innovation and accelerate transition as traditional growth drivers are being replaced by new ones.

"All countries should uphold the principle of inclusive development and shared benefits in order to realise common development," he said.

President XI said all countries should also be committed to opening-up, while opposing protectionism and unilateralism in a clear cut stand.

According to the Chinese president, over 100 countries, 3,600 companies occupy 300,000 square metres at the exhibition centre, participating in the maiden CIIE, adding that over 400,000 Chinese and other buyers were at the event.

"China's initiative to expand imports is not a makeshift but a long-term consideration of embracing the world and future while promoting common development," he noted.

President Xi said China would not close her doors to the world, but only become more and more opened.

He said China would expedite the exploration of building a free trade port in Hainan with Chinese characteristics.

The Chinese president revealed that China imports goods and services estimated to exceed US$30 trillion and US$10 trillion respectively in the next 15 years.

He said measures announced in April to relax market access have been so far implemented, adding that China has further simplified negative list of foreign investment, reduced investment limits and lifted the level of free investment.

"China is taking solid steps to expand financial opening-up in the service sector, deepening opening-up in agriculture, mining, manufacturing, and accelerate the opening process of sectors including telecommunications, education, medical treatment and culture," he said.

President Xi said China would push forward multilateral and bilateral cooperation in pursuit of development.

Also, President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta said CIIE promotes trade partnership, adding that CIIE means that China was opened to business.

He said China is taking advantage of trade opportunities presented to her by Africa.

A customs data released by China's Ministry of Commerce from January to June 2018 revealed that China and African countries traded goods worth US$99.84 billion. It noted that trade volume increased 17.3 percent year-on-year. It further revealed that China's exports to Africa grew 8.1 percent to US$50.37bn, while imports increased 28.6 percent to US$48.47bn. It also stated that in June alone, China's imported US$9.3bn worth of goods to Africa and imported US$7.52bn.

Considering the above imbalanced figures, President Kenyatta said CIIE could help close trading gaps between Africa and China, adding that China is the number one trading partner with Kenya and Africa's largest trading partner.

"But we are kindly asking the Chinese government to lower tariffs on goods that are exported from Africa to China," he said.

The Kenya president called on the Chinese to provide technical support on how to improve African products that are exported to China, noting that it was also important for the Chinese to provide support to manufacturers of African products with Chinese standards so that Africa's goods will be appreciated and bought by citizens of China.

He said Kenya has one of Africa's most conducive business environments, noting that biodiversity is Africa's main assets.

He said Chinese tourism was good for business and cultural understanding.

He called on Chinese firms to start manufacturing goods in Africa and also add value to some of Africa's products.

As a country that is part of the belt and road initiative (BRI), which was put forward by China to facilitate connectivity between countries and boost trade, President Kenyatta said Kenyans were delighted with the manner at which roads are being constructed in Kenya through the support of China.

He said the CIIE provides chance to learn from China's development.

Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Christine Lagarde said China's opening-up has built global bridges, noting that further reforms would unleash private sector.

"China's opening-up has also improved global living standards. China is building bridge to the future through trade cooperation. Prosperity and peace come from trade cooperation," she said.

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