Global business leaders at CIIE eye expansion in China market

BEIJING, Nov. 7, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Executives of many multinational companies have expressed their confidence in the Chinese market and vowed to further expand their businesses in the country, as they explore opportunities at the ongoing China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai.

As the world faces profound economic challenges and risks, China’s vast market and persistent opening-up offer great opportunities for businesses from around the world, several global business leaders from a wide range of countries and fields such as chips and healthcare told the Global Times on Monday.

Meanwhile, Chinese officials said that the CIIE is a vivid example of China’s opening-up efforts and its move to expand cooperation and share development opportunities with the world, noting the country will continue to further open up its market.

This year’s CIIE has attracted more than 280 Global Fortune 500 companies and industry leaders, a record number since the expo was first held in 2018. Highlighting great importance that global businesses attach to the expo, top executives, including CEOs, of many multinational companies also attended the event in person.

After the opening ceremony on Sunday, the CIIE also organized a tour of the expo for global business leaders, and more than 160 executives from nearly 100 multinational companies from 18 countries participated. Many executives spoke highly of the CIIE’s role in boosting cooperation as well as the broader Chinese market.

“The world economy is facing unprecedented challenges and requires the impetus for recovery. China has consistently adhered to the fundamental national policy of opening up to the outside world and has remained committed to the correct direction of economic globalization,” Brice-Audren Riché, CEO of Lesaffre, a global fermentation giant headquartered in France, told the Global Times on Monday.

Riché said that China continues to strive to cooperate with the world and make its market a global opportunity, and the CIIE serves as an international platform for sharing these opportunities. “As a multinational enterprise, Lesaffre has experienced the benefits of this opportunity and is confident in increasing investment in China.”

Many multinationals have become what some describe as “hardcore fans” of the CIIE, having attended all the editions of the expo, which they say is a platform not only for inking business deals but also for getting first-hand information about new market trends and innovations.

Noting that L’Oréal is one of such hardcore fans of the CIIE, Fabrice Megarbane, president of L’Oréal North Asia and CEO of L’Oréal China, said that the expo allows industry leaders to work together with smaller companies. “We have been here since Day One and we’ve been increasing our presence,” Megarbane told the Global Times on Monday.

Many global businesses in fields such as chips that have been in the crosshairs of the US’ intensifying technological crackdown against China are also actively participating in the CIIE to stay in the Chinese market.

“The annual CIIE has continued to demonstrate China’s long-term resolve to foster an open and cooperative market environment, and the spirit of openness embodied by the CIIE is consistent with ASML’s pursuit of open cooperation,” Shen Bo, senior vice president of ASML and president of ASML China, told the Global Times.

Continuous opening-up

The enthusiasm of multinationals at the CIIE underscored the rising attractiveness of the Chinese market for global businesses, thanks to its steady economic recovery, continuous opening-up and improving business environment, despite rising protectionism and geopolitical tension around the world, business leaders said.

“We’ve seen China emerge quite positively post-COVID, with strong links on health and well-being,” Miles Hurrell, CEO of New Zealand-based dairy producer Fonterra, told the Global Times on Monday. “This is my fourth visit to China this year, and on every one of these I continue to see innovation to the fore … The range of products, the number of customers here really highlight the role China plays in the international market for me.”

While China’s economy has been facing serious downward pressure, it has also been rebounding steadily. In the third quarter, China’s GDP expanded 4.9 percent year-on-year, beating some forecasts. While challenges and risks remain, China’s economy is expected to meet the annual growth target of around 5 percent, which will make it one of the fastest-growing major economies.

“The Chinese market has maintained stable growth over the past few decades. Despite the complex global situation in recent years, the Chinese economy has remained stable. It can be said that China is an important country leading the global economic recovery and a market in which multinational companies are eager to participate deeply,” Riché said.

Such positive sentiment about the Chinese market is also shared by many foreign businesses, according to a survey released on Monday. The survey, conducted by HSBC, showed that 87 percent of foreign companies surveyed said that they would expand their businesses in China thanks to the economic recovery.

In addition to the economic recovery, China’s opening-up and other efforts to improve the business environment for foreign enterprises have also helped boost global businesses’ confidence in the Chinese market.

Zhang Xiao, senior vice president and president of Greater China of Varian, a US-based healthcare firm, highlighted China’s emphasis on advancing high-standard opening-up and continuing to make economic globalization more open, inclusive, balanced and beneficial to all. “We fully agree with and actively support this, and it also strengthens Varian’s confidence in continued investment and development in China,” Zhang told the Global Times in an interview last week

At a routine press conference on Monday, Wang Wenbin, spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said China will continue to promote opening-up with greater market opportunities, better integration of rules, greater innovation momentum and greater inclusiveness and sharing.

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