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China's Xi Jinping vows lower tariffs, more imports at trade fair
05 November 2018, 09:27 | Hattie Nash
China's Xi promises market opening as import fair begins
While Trump has floated the possibility of a deal when he meets Xi in the coming weeks, the two sides remain far apart on resolving key USA complaints.
He added that China would endeavour to "foster a world-class business environment" and that China´s doors will open "ever wider".
China's President Xi Jinping attends the opening ceremony of the first China International Import Expo, in Shanghai, on November 5, 2018.
Xi has said the expo proves China is willing to reduce its huge trade surpluses with other countries.
US President Donald Trump says China has hurt the United States economically but that he was ready to make a deal on trade.
Decrying "protectionism", "isolationism" and confrontation, Mr Xi said countries should fix their own houses before targeting others. "They shouldn't always whitewash themselves and blame others, or act like a flashlight that only exposes others but not themselves".
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"It is our honest commitment to open the Chinese market", Xi said in an address opening the event in Shanghai.
The European Union, which shares USA concerns over China's trade practices if not Trump's tariff strategy to address them, on Thursday called on China to take concrete steps to further open its market to foreign firms and provide a level playing field, adding that it would not sign up to any political statement at the forum.
But trading partners and foreign enterprises say he is yet to put his money where his mouth is, and they are exhausted of empty promises.
But he said Xi's latest comments came "with few specific solutions" and that the chamber wants to see the "rhetoric" match by actions. But that's also "the greatest opportunity for the world".
Foreign businesses complain about a range of policies that benefit local firms, requirements that foreign companies form joint ventures with Chinese partners, forced technology transfers, rampant intellectual property violations and restrictive red tape.
Ma, who announced in September that he would step aside in a year's time to focus on philanthropy, said China's plans to remake itself as an importing nation would provoke resistance from vested interests.
Presidents and prime ministers from almost 20 countries are attending the trade fair, although no leaders from Western countries are attending.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta voiced the foreign impatience when he told the opening ceremony that his country´s growing trade with China was "heavily skewed" in Beijing´s favour.
The Chinese president said China would push forward multilateral and bilateral cooperation in pursuit of development.
China imported $1.84-trillion of goods in 2017, up 16 per cent, or $255-billion, from a year earlier.
Both are seen as eyeing new ways into China.
Instead, people involved in planning meetings have said they were anticipating an event long on symbolism and short on substance meant to signal China's willingness to narrow trade deficits and openness.
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