China lauds import fair with RM242b in deals


BEIJING • Chinese firms signed a combined US$57.83 billion (RM241.74 billion) worth of intended one-year deals at the country’s first import fair this week, China Central Television (CCTV) reported, as the government seeks to boost demand for foreign goods amid trade tension with the US.

Agreements to buy goods and services were signed by firms among the more than 3,600 exhibitors at the China International Import Expo in Shanghai on Nov 5-10, CCTV said on Saturday, bolstering President Xi Jinping’s pledge to continue relaxing access to the world’s largest pool of consumers.

Of the deals, US$4.72 billion were reached with countries under China’s Belt and Road initiative to build trade links to Asia and the Middle East, the report said.

According to a study of the deals by Bloomberg News, government enterprises in energy, shipbuilding, steelmaking, automobiles and other sectors dominated the purchasing as China used its political muscle to boost Xi’s initiative. The role of the state is at the core of the discontent with China’s economic policy that has led to the current standoff with the US.

To some observers, the multibillion dollar deals show both how the nation is opening up, and what barriers still remain. Interviews by Bloomberg News at the trade fair with dozens of executives trying to break into or expand in China underscored the many industry-specific barriers that have to be negotiated to gain access, and some industries remain closed entirely.