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Hongqiao Forum shines spotlight on opening-up

China Daily| Updated: February 8, 2024

China is embracing the positive impact and fruitful results of last fall's Hongqiao International Economic Forum in Shanghai.

Held on Nov 5-6 as a significant part of the China International Import Expo and themed "Joining Hands in Development, Opening Up for the Future", the sixth annual event attracted thousands of officials, academicians, industry experts and corporate leaders from around the world.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Cuban Prime Minister Manuel Marrero Cruz, Kazakh Prime Minister Alikhan Smailov and Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic attended the opening ceremony of the sixth Hongqiao Forum, and the event included an array of activities related to "Invest in China Year", a symposium on the 2023 World Openness Report and 22 subforums under four sections.

Organized by the Ministry of Commerce, an "Invest in China Year" special promotional event was designed for pilot free trade zones to showcase the achievements of China's pilot FTZs, demonstrate their favorable business environment, encourage global investors to invest and thrive within the zones, and share the dividends of China's reform and development.

During the dialogue session, officials from FTZs and representatives from enterprises shared their insights on how to promote the development of industries with local characteristics and how to create an excellent business environment.

Attendees witnessed the release of a research report titled the Role of China's Pilot Free Trade Zones in Promoting Institutional Innovation, Industrial Transformation and South-South Cooperation, which noted FTZs help China establish economic ties with other countries and provide valuable experience for developing nations to contribute to global economic growth.

Gu Xueming, president of the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, also released China's Pilot Free Trade Zones Development Report (2013-23).

World Openness Report

For the third consecutive year, the World Openness Report was published during the Hongqiao Forum, jointly released by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of World Economics and Politics and the Research Center for the Hongqiao International Economic Forum. According to the report, the World Openness Index was at 0.7542 in 2022, reflecting an overall downward trend, with intensified divergence of openness between countries, sectors and regions.

Zhang Yuyan, director of the Institute of World Economics and Politics under the CASS, said: "The figure was the second-lowest level since 2008, but despite the sluggish performance on opening-up, there is hope for further progress."

Zhang said technological advances have reduced resistance to the flows of goods, services, information and other resources, while global green transformation is accelerating and is expected to play a more active role in increasing the resilience of international industry chains, supply chains, and value chains. He added that the key to strengthening global security is "advocating the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security, while balancing openness and security in an improved manner".

Addressing the forum in a video link, Christopher Pissarides, Regius professor of economics at the London School of Economics, said openness helps a nation expand its market, which in turn helps it improve efficiency and leverage competitive advantages to attain growth that is otherwise difficult to achieve.

According to the index, the top 10 open economies in 2022 were Singapore, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Malta, the Netherlands, Australia, Switzerland, Cyprus and the United Kingdom. From 2008 to 2022, China's openness index rose from 0.6789 to 0.7517.

Parallel sessions

Five subforums under the section of opening-up for development focused on green investment; resilient global industry and supply chains; agricultural services trade; revitalizing real economy with financial resources; and the Pudong pioneer area.

During the forum on green investment, delegates discussed how to better promote green technology innovation and expand the scale of financing for climate change adaptation by reshaping the global trade and investment policy. Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Tran Hong Ha told the forum that countries need to strengthen international cooperation for the economy's green transformation and devise a fair and equitable method to divide responsibilities as they are at different stages of development.

He also called on countries to advance technological development and utilize fair trade policies to help enterprises expand markets.

For the first time, the sixth Hongqiao Forum included a Hong Kong-themed symposium in the section of opening-up for cooperation. It highlighted Hong Kong's role as a leading international business and investment hub that has facilitated overseas expansion of Chinese mainland companies and foreign businesses' investments into the Chinese mainland.

In addition to the debut of the symposium, the section also featured another four subforums. They were focused on new opportunities for US companies, international cooperation on standards, regional international organizations and their contribution to the development of the Belt and Road Initiative, and the construction of Hongqiao as an international hub for opening-up.

The other two sections — opening-up for sharing and opening-up for innovation — together comprised 11 subforums on various themes including new consumption trends and new potential; silver economy; intellectual property protection; international industrial parks' improvement in innovation; and digital governance and digital industry.

Seventh edition

Preparations for this year's seventh Hongqiao Forum are already well underway, with steady progress in devising themes and topics.

"We welcome guests from the global political, business and academic communities to participate in the forum, engaging in discussions on global economic governance and other issues," said a member of the organizing committee. "We look forward to seeing you in Shanghai in November!"


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