Chinese President Xi Jingping announced at the large China International Import Expo (CIIE) that he will lower tariffs and increase imports as a way to “demonstrate goodwill amid mounting frictions with the United States and others.”

While this appears like a good thing, Xi has made these promises before.

Reuters reported:

In a speech that largely echoed previous promises, Xi said China would accelerate opening of the education, telecommunications and cultural sectors, while protecting foreign companies’ interests and punishing violations of intellectual property rights.

He also said he expects China to import $30 trillion worth of goods and $10 trillion worth of services in the next 15 years. Last year, Xi estimated that China would import $24 trillion worth of goods over the coming 15 years.

“CIIE is a major initiative by China to pro-actively open up its market to the world,” Xi said.

In 2015, Xi promised “that China would buy $10 trillion in goods from other countries over a five-year period.”

Reuters noted that even though foreign business groups have hammered President Donald Trump over tariffs thrown at China, they have also “grown weary of Chinese reform promises” and knew retaliation would come “if it didn’t match the openness of its trading partners.

The Wall Street Journal described these trade deficits with China as a “lightning rod.” The situation has only grown worse every year due to “unfulfilled promises of market access for American dairy farmers, financial advisors, internet firms and other companies.” Trump included those broken promises as reasons why he placed tariffs on imported Chinese products valued at $250 billion.

Xi continued:

He said “multilateralism and the free trade system is under attack, factors of instability and uncertainty are numerous, and risks and obstacles are increasing”.

“With the deepening development today of economic globalization, ‘the weak falling prey to the strong’ and ‘winner takes all’ are dead-end alleys,” he said.

Kenneth Jarrett, the president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai, stated that Xi’s “rhetoric alone won’t be sufficient.”

The speech didn’t impress Louis Kuijs, head of Asia economics at Oxford Economics, because it lacked “path-breaking new reforms.” He interpreted the speech “as a confirmation that China is very keen to be seen as continuing to open up further and committing to that stance.”

Reuters has China’s import numbers:

China imported $1.84 trillion of goods in 2017, up 16 percent, or $255 billion, from a year earlier. Of that total, China imported about $130 billion of goods from the United States. The Chinese government’s top diplomat, State Councillor Wang Yi, said in March that China would import $8 trillion of goods in the next five years.


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