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Editorial : China International Import Expo

【明報專訊】THE first China International Import Expo opened on 5th November. This is the world's first largest import expo. Not only is there trading of goods and services, but there is also an exhibition of the investment environments of participating countries. Furthermore, as the expo will be attended by the heads of many countries, it will be another grand diplomatic event that China plays host to. The idea of organising the expo originated in May last year. In other words, it is not a countermeasure against the trade war, but is rather an attempt to showcase the fact that China's strategy of pursuing further reform and opening up will change the world trade order. Whether the choice of Shanghai for the expo signifies the shift of focus in China's future economic development also provides food for thought.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of China's reform and opening up. How to deepen the reform and opening up requires not only verbal promises but also real action. According to figures of the country's total imports and exports, China exported goods worth 15.33 trillion yuan last year, while the imports amounted to 12.46 trillion yuan. In other words, there was a trade surplus of nearly 3 trillion yuan. However, exports rose by 10.8%, and imports, by 20.9%. So the trade surplus shrunk by 14.2%. If that trend continues, perhaps one day China will achieve trade balance or even have a larger amount of imports than exports. China's assertion that it is not pursuing trade surpluses to earn foreign exchanges will become a fact.

Over the past 40 years, China has embarked on a road of gradual transformation. It first relied on the export of low-grade goods and natural resources, before it started to import technological semi-finished products and package and process them. It then began to export huge technological products. Through the export of goods it gained experience in foreign trade, enhanced the quality of its products and management, and earned foreign exchanges for the country. It has become the country with the world's biggest reserves of foreign exchanges, with the country, enterprises and the people having money to spare. This has caused the rapid expansion of the market, so much so the Chinese market is now "too big to fail". While in the past it was all about "selling, selling and selling", it is now about "buying, buying and buying" as well even when it is exporting. The Import Expo has come about against such a backdrop.

Our country has chosen Shanghai as the city to host the Import Expo. This is related to the huge market of the Yangtze River Delta. However, it is thought-provoking whether the focus of the country's economic development will shift to Eastern China. The Greater Bay Area encompassing Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao is in an initial stage, and there is a lot of babbling about in what areas Guangdong and Hong Kong can be the leader. These regions should immediately investigate why Shanghai is the leader of the Yangtze River Delta, and how time and geographical or human factors were behind that. It is necessary to mitigate the conflicts between Guangdong and Hong Kong and make good use of the advantages. We cannot let our spirits sink because of jealousy of others' success. We ought to have the courage and confidence to march forward towards the goal of coordinated economic development of the Greater Bay Area and prosperity as a whole.

明報社評2018.11.05:劃時代進口博覽會 改變國際國內格局

首屆中國國際進口博覽會5日揭幕,這是一場全球首次最大規模的進口博覽會,不但有商品與服務產品的交易,也有參展國家的投資環境博覽,而且由於有多國元首出席,而成為中國另一場主場外交的盛會。主辦這次博覽會起意於去年5月,所以並非應對貿易戰的措施,而是對外展示中國進一步改革開放形象的戰略,將會改變世界貿易格局。這次博覽會選址上海,是否意味着今後中國經濟發展的重心轉移,也值得探討。

今年是中國改革開放40周年,如何推進深化改革開放,不但要有口頭上的承諾,還要看實際的行動,從全國進出口貿易總額的數字看,去年出口15.33萬億元人民幣;進口12.46萬億元,出口仍然大於進口而順差近3萬億元,但出口增長10.8%,進口增長20.9%,順差收窄了14.2%,按照這個趨勢,或許有一天會達到進出口平衡,甚至進口大於出口,中國對外宣布並非追求貿易順差賺取外匯的說法,就會成為現實。

中國在過去40年,初而依靠出口低級產品和天然資源,轉變到進口科技半製成品進行裝配加工,再出口大型科技產品,逐步轉型。出口積累了對外貿易的經驗,從中改善產品質量以及改進了管理的水平,同時也為國家賺取外匯資本,成為世界第一大外匯儲備國,國家、企業和老百姓都有餘錢,造就了市場的快速擴大,而今中國市場已經到了「大到不能倒」(too big to fail)的地步,是時候由過去單純的「賣賣賣」,轉變到在出口的同時,也要「買買買」,進口博覽會的出現,由此應運而生。

國家選擇上海作為進口博覽會的城市,跟長江三角洲的市場龐大有關,但是否意味着國家將今後的經濟發展重心轉向華東,耐人尋味。粵港澳大灣區剛剛起步,廣東與香港在哪些領域可以當龍頭還在絮絮不休,三地必須及時探究上海之所以成為長三角龍頭,天時地利人和的種種因素都是什麼,將粵港之間的矛盾因素消弭,將有利因素積極運用,不能嫉妒人家的輝煌而喪氣,要有大踏步向前邁進的勇氣和信心,把大灣區經濟協調發展、共同繁榮作為目標。

■Glossary

to spare : if you have time, money, etc. to spare, you have more than you need

come about : to happen, or start to happen

thought-provoking : making people think seriously about a particular subject or issue

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