CIIE Latest: China Premier Makes Import Pledge; Albanese Speaks

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(Bloomberg) -- Chinese Premier Li Qiang kicked off the China International Import Expo with a promise to boost imports, while Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese sounded an optimistic note on ties between the nations following years of friction.

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Shanghai is hosting the event aimed at providing foreign exporters with an opportunity to increase their trade with China after border closures due to the pandemic meant that few people were able to attend in person in recent years.

Executives of global companies such as Sanofi SA, HSBC Holdings Plc, Rio Tinto Plc and PepsiCo Inc. attended the CIIE and the Hongqiao International Economic Forum on Sunday.

(All time stamps are Shanghai time)

Dreyfus CEO Endorses China’s FTZs (3:10 p.m.)

China’s free-trade zones have helped international investors bring more commodities to China, Michael Gelchie, chief executive officer of Louis Dreyfus Co., one of the world’s biggest agricultural traders.

Speaking by video at the same panel at the Hongqiao forum, Eric Maskin, co-winner of the Nobel for economics in 2007, said China had “good reason” to go even further with FTZs to promote trade and attract investment.

China has launched some 21 of the zones over the past decade to test trade and financial liberalization initiatives.

Developing Nations Short of Climate Funding: UN Official (3 p.m.)

Rebeca Grynspan, secretary-general of the UN Conference on Trade and Development, said at the Hongqiao forum that developing nations are short more than $4 trillion of the funds needed to meet their climate targets under the Paris Agreement and the gap is growing.

She added that higher interest rates around the world were making developing nations’ debt burdens worse and preventing them from getting needed investments.

HK Official Calls Out Cold War Thinking (2:50 p.m.)

Hong Kong Financial Secretary Paul Chan told a session of the Hongqiao forum that certain nations are impeding investment and trade with protectionism, a veiled criticism of the US and echoing comments Chinese officials frequently make.

”Some countries stick to a zero-sum game and a Cold War mindset,” Chan said. “This poses a threat to the global economy’s post-pandemic recovery and prosperous development.”

Xi Commits to Globalization (11:30 a.m.)

Chinese President Xi Jinping said in a letter to the expo that his nation would “continue to make economic globalization more open, inclusive, balanced and beneficial to all.”

China would also “firmly advance high-standard opening-up,” he said, according to the official Xinhua News Agency. The letter was read aloud at the forum by Vice Premier He Lifeng, the economic czar.

Albanese Wants Dialogue, Cooperation (10:40 a.m.)

Australia will “continue to work constructively with China” because “it is in all our interests to have a relationship where there is dialogue and cooperation,” Albanese said in remarks to expo attendees.

Albanese is making the first visit by an Australian leader to China in seven years, one that follows a period of testy diplomatic ties between the countries. He will also travel to Beijing where he’ll meet Xi.

Li Says China Will Protect Foreign Investors (10:25 a.m.)

Li said China “will actively expand imports,” a comment that comes despite the slowdown in the Chinese economy, which has hurt demand for goods from around the world.

He also said in a speech to open the CIIE that “the rights and interests” of foreign investors would be protected. A measure of foreign investment into China recently turned negative for the first time since records began in 1998, partly due to tensions with the West.

Michelin CEO Optimistic Despite Slowdown (8:45 a.m.)

Florent Menegaux, chief executive officer of Compagnie Generale des Etablissements Michelin, said investing in China is a “no brainer” for the company despite the economic recovery falling short of expectations so far.

The nation continues to be a promising market for the tire maker, he said, adding that he’d return to Shanghai in two weeks for the groundbreaking of a plant expansion.

--With assistance from Jason Rogers.

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