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Hongqiao Forum to connect business leaders Release date: 2019-09-20    Source:China Daily

This year's event will focus on opening-up and innovation to boost world economic development

At a time of increasing trade uncertainties, the Hongqiao International Economic Forum - a platform connecting leaders from different industries during the China International Import Expo - will improve understanding and even offer solutions for the challenges facing a slowing global economy.

Assistant Commerce Minister Ren Hongbin said that this year's forum, which will be held on Nov 5, will try to address the challenges facing world economic development by focusing on opening-up and innovation.

Up to 50 experts from all over the world will deliver speeches and exchange opinions with other attendants, said Ren. WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank President Jin Liqun and Nobel Laureate Sir Christopher Pissarides have confirmed their attendance at the forum.

Similar to last year, this year's Hongqiao International Economic Forum will consist of an opening ceremony in the morning followed by four parallel sessions. As world GDP growth slows and world trade has remained stagnant since the global financial crisis in 2008, one parallel session will explore the future direction for multilateral and regional cooperation. While in another, the role of e-commerce platforms in world trade will be discussed.

Faced with the opportunities and challenges brought by economic globalization, efforts should be made to explore the right path for policies facilitating trade and investment. Therefore, one of the parallel sessions will discuss the roles of the government and multinational companies in the process of improving the business environment, said Ren.

"Against that backdrop, open cooperation will help inject more vitality into the world investment environment. Governments should improve their services to companies to create a stable, fair, transparent and open business environment," he said.

A total of 1,500 guests will be invited to attend the second Hongqiao International Economic Forum, and each of its sub-forums will have 800 guests taking part. The total number of participants is expected to surpass the first forum held in 2018, said Chen Chao, deputy director-general of the department of international trade and economic affairs at the Ministry of Commerce.

Kong Fuan, deputy director-general of China International Import Expo Bureau, said the highlight of this year's Hongqiao International Economic Forum is its new membership system, which includes four levels - diamond, platinum, gold and silver.

The forum's member companies can enjoy various rights according to different categories. Once they have gained membership, it can be used for three years. Many domestic and global companies have applied for memberships at different levels. The applicants include multinationals, State-owned enterprises and many private companies, covering food, medicine and healthcare, transportation, information technology, finance and other fields, said Kong.

To create more convenient conditions for participating businesses in domestic and global markets, Wang Huiyao, president of the Center for China and Globalization, a Beijing-based think tank, suggested that from a long-term perspective, the government should consider issuing a travel card for CIIE participants similar to the APEC Business Travel Card, allowing card holders to use a special immigration lane and enjoy streamlined clearance.

"Through CIIE, we saw China's determination to build a more open business environment, promote globalization in the market and to meet people's expectations for a better life," said Lan Zhenzhen, vice-president of L'Oreal China.

Lan said the company benefits from the many policies, such as tax and fee cuts, and loosened market access, which help the development of foreign companies in China. The company displayed more than 500 products during last year's event.

Forum to connect business leaders

Global accounting and consulting firm Deloitte also plans to double its exhibition space to showcase more of its advanced technologies and services in intelligent city, intelligent medical care and intelligent finance this year, as the company sealed over 10 deals during the first CIIE in 2018, mainly on digital transformation and globalization with its Chinese partners.

The CIIE gives exhibitors from around the world a chance to show their advantages and explore opportunities for cooperation, said Liu Minghua, innovation partner of Deloitte China, adding that it also showcases Shanghai's ability to attract quality foreign investment, its sound infrastructure, vast talent pool and strong government support for high-tech industries and various innovative activities.

In October 2018, the World Bank released the Doing Business 2019 report, which measures regulations that enhance business activity and those that constrain it. China ranked 46th among the 190 surveyed economies, significantly up from 78th a year earlier. Shanghai's contribution was weighed at 55 percent while the rest came from Beijing.

Wang Bingnan, vice-minister of commerce, said the purpose of holding the CIIE is not simply to increase imports, but also to focus more on optimizing the import structure and providing companies access to more advanced technologies and ideas, while maintaining stable growth in exports.

"Through the CIIE platform, we aim to build an international platform for new technologies and ideas, support high-quality consumption, expand imports of high-quality products and services, and offer more choices for Chinese consumers," Wang said.

According to the CIIE Bureau, the organizer also welcomes more private and small-and medium-sized enterprises to take part. It will set up news conference areas for companies to release their latest products, technologies and services.

In addition to showing the healthy changes in China's business environment to global companies, Wang said the expo will help provide more channels for domestic companies to adopt advanced technologies, equipment and services and promote their development and industrial upgrading, while boosting high-quality development of China's economy.

On a larger scale than the inaugural event last year, the second CIIE will inject new vitality and create impetus to China's new round of reform and opening-up, said Qu Weixi, vice-president of Beijing-based Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation.

A moderate increase in imports will enable China to better integrate itself into the world production system and labor division, give full play to its comparative advantages and gain more benefits in trade, he said.

A new high-end consumer goods exhibition area will be set up, conforming to the wave of consumption upgrading. Augmented reality, virtual reality, pension services, outdoor cooking equipment and automated driving are some of the innovations and service solutions that will be on display at this year's event, according to the organizer.

The CIIE will also hold an exhibition for different countries and regions who want to display their development achievements and industries this year. It aims to improve the influence of countries and enhance international economic cooperation. The event will show the principle of achieving shared growth through discussion and collaboration.