TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The opening ceremony of China’s first international import exposition commenced today (Nov. 5) in Shanghai.
Representatives of businesses from 172 countries were in attendance, with over 3600 industries present in total. Despite this, few national delegations attended the event and those that did were of smaller and medium-sized economies. Out of all the G20 economies, only Russia sent officials along to participate.
The six-day event was opened with a speech from Communist Party leader Xi Jinping, who said China is further reducing export tariffs and import linkage costs for foreign customers, as well as opposing protectionism. The leader continued to tout the importance and benefits of the Shanghai Free-Trade Zone.
Notably but perhaps unsurprisingly absent from the event was a U.S. official delegation. Xi did not directly mention the U.S. in his speech, but did seem to take a swipe at Trump, saying that in today’s rapidly-developing, globalized economy, the path to victory for those following the “laws of the jungle” and playing a “winner-takes-all game” is becoming increasingly narrow.
According to reports, Trump commented that he was happy for U.S. industries to attend the event but would not be sending government officials. A representative of the U.S. embassy in China said the country must implement the necessary reforms to end its unfair and unjust trading practices that hurt the global economy.
Despite many international brands rearing their heads at the event, including Adidas, Walmart, Procter & Gamble and UNIQLO, only directors of Chinese divisions were dispatched to represent their respective companies.
Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson, who struck a recent deal with Alibaba to expand the coffee company’s online presence and delivery capabilities in China, is set to fly out to Shanghai soon, but will also not be attending the expo. Currently, a new Starbucks franchise opens in China every 15 hours.
Global media sources have acknowledged China’s difficult position within the ongoing U.S. trade war and the new round of opening-up policies that may be promoted to attract foreign investment as a result. No new breakthroughs in global trade tensions are expected due to the event, however.