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3rd Western China International Fair for Investment and Trade Opens in Chongqing

By TRUMAN PENGICHONGQING|May 21,2021

Chongqing – The 3rd Western China International Fair for Investment and Trade (WCIFIT 2021) kicked off at the Chongqing International Expo Center on May 21, with a dozen international political heavyweights, foreign ambassadors to China, and officials from the Ministry of Commerce and Sichuan and Guangxi provinces giving keynote speeches via both online and offline means.

Tang Liangzhi, mayor of Chongqing Municipal Government, gives an opening speech. (iChongqing/Truman PENG)

Themed “Joining Hands with the West for A Bright Future,” this year’s event invited the Republic of Columbia,  the Republic of Indonesia, and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam to be WCIFIT 2021’s guest countries of honor, and Sichuan Province, Yunnan Province, and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region to be guest provinces of honor.

“As a strategically important growth engine of West China, Chongqing should use WCIFIT as a platform to actively contribute to the new ‘Dual Circulation’ development paradigm, build on its unique geographical advantages and innate strengths in the Western Development masterplan to play a leading role in the ‘Belt & Road Initiative’ and be an exemplary model in promoting the ‘Yangtze River Economic Belt’ green development strategy,” said Hao Mingjin, vice chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, during his opening speech.

Foreign diplomats and representatives of Fortune Global 500 companies attend the opening ceremony. (iChongqing/Truman PENG)

Deputy Minister of Commerce Wang Bingnan echoed Hao’s call for Chongqing to play a bigger role at the forefront of China’s opening up by saying that, “WCIFIT is an important platform for international products and services exhibition, a window for West China to seek trade and investment opportunities with countries and regions along the ‘Belt and Road,’ and a boon to the decades of efforts to further open up the western region, to establish new diplomatic relations, and to increase the global significance of West China.”

“China is the only major economy in the world that enjoyed a positive growth in 2020 and looks set to continue expanding strongly this year,” said Mrs. Josephine Teo, Singapore’s Minister for Communications and Information & Second Minister for Home Affairs, in her video message to the opening ceremony.

Mrs. Josephine Teo, Singaporean Minister for Communications and Information and Second Minister for Home Affairs, gives a video speech. (iChongqing/Truman PENG)

“Last year, the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) marks a significant milestone for trade relations between ASEAN and Chian, and with our mutual trading partners, once ratified and implemented, RCEP will further boost business confidence and economic cooperation in the region.”

Mrs. Teo highly praised the China-Singapore (Chongqing) Demonstration Initiative on Strategic Connectivity and the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor, or CCI-ILSTC in her passionate speech, saying that global enterprises can greatly benefit from the reduced transportation time and logistics cost of the trade corridor. “The CCI-ILSTC can also serve as a pathfinder to speed up regional collaboration in new areas such as trade digitalization, in which Singaporean and Chinese customs authorities have already made noticeable progress,” she added.

Lee Nak-Yon, former prime minister and ruling party leader of the Republic of Korea, gives a video speech. (iChongqing/Truman PENG)

“Chongqing and other western regions are strategic locations for the Belt and Road Initiative and Western Development Plan, through opening-up and cooperation, they are building a brand-new future with an average annual growth rate of over 10%,” Lee Nak-Yon, former prime minister and ruling party leader of South Korea, also made a virtual appearance at the opening ceremony by giving a pre-recorded video speech, in which he congratulated on Chongqing’s rapid economic leap. “I believe that the Western China International Fair for Investment and Trade held today will inject more vitality into the development of Chongqing”

China and South Korea had difficult times in history, but the two countries have come a long way in mutual assistance and cooperation, Mr. Lee said, adding that “the former site of the office building of the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea is located in Chongqing,” which, in and of itself, is a testimony of the friendship between China and South Korean.

“Last year, China jumped to be the second-biggest source of foreign direct investment in Indonesia, second to Singapore and followed by Japan,” said Minister of Investment of the Republic of Indonesia Bahlil Lahadalia in his video speech. “We hope to strengthen our cooperation with China and promote mutual benefits for Indonesian and Chinese enterprises.”

Laura Valdivieso, acting minister of commerce, industry, and tourism of the Republic of Columbia, gives a video speech. (iChongqing/Truman PENG)

“China is Columbia’s second-largest trading partner after the United States, and the diplomatic relations between our two countries go back to 41 years ago, during which we have built stronger ties in trade and economic cooperation,” Laura Valdivieso, acting minister of commerce, industry, and tourism of the Republic of Columbia, said in her video message.

“Since 2002, China has made more than USD280 million worth of investments in Columbia’s infrastructure, telecommunications technology, automotive, mining, renewable energy, among other areas, through the presence of 80 Chinese companies in Columbia,” she said,  adding that a Chinese company is currently building the Bogota Metro in Columbia.

 On behalf of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, also one of the three guest countries of honor, the Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Do Thang Hai expressed appreciation for the organizing committee’s initiative to host WCIFIT 2021 via both online and offline means.

Chen Min’er, party chief of Chongqing Municipality, announces the opening of WCIFIT 2021. (iChongqing/Truman PENG)

“The Ministry of Industry and Trade and the industrial and commercial circles of Vietnam attach great importance to the role and potential of the western China market, especially Chongqing, which has grown to be one of the region’s economic, financial, and technological centers, and an international logistics hub linking China with ASEAN and EU countries,” Mr. Do added.

Ambassador of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic to China Khamphao Ernthavanh, who made it to the opening ceremony in person, also delivered a keynote speech saying that “the WCIFIT is an important platform for the State-owned enterprises (SOEs) and private companies in various countries to gather together, share cross-border trade and investment experiences, showcase their latest products and services, so as to promote the continued and extensive growth in mutual trade and economic cooperations.”

The opening ceremony climaxed when Chen Min’er, member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and secretary of the CPC Chongqing Municipal Committee, announced the beginning of the 3rd Western China International Fair for Investment and Trade.

A panoramic view of the Liangjiang Hall in Chongqing International Convention Center where the event was held. (iChongqing/Truman PENG)

Then the 2021 CCI-ILSTC International Cooperation Forum was held at the same venue right after the opening ceremony, with keynote speeches given by Zheng Xiangdong, vice mayor of the Chongqing Municipal Government, Tan Chong Meng, Group CEO of Port of Singapore Authority (PSA) International Pte Ltd, Hu Jianhua, general manager of China Merchants Group, Ramon Lopez, secretary of Trade and Industry of the Republic of Philippines, Luo Xi, chairman of the People’s Insurance Company (Group) of China Limited, Djauhari Oratmangun, ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia to China, Gu Xueming, head of the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation under the Ministry of Commerce, PRC, Pham Sao Mai, ambassador of the Republic of Vietnam to China, Jens Eskelund, senior director of Maersk China Ltd., and vice president of European Union Chamber of Commerce in China (EUCCC), Sulaimah Mahmood, senior director of ASEAN and Southeast Asia & Oceania Division of the Singaporean Ministry of Trade and Industry, and Xu Ningning, executive director of China-ASEAN Business Council.

The forum concluded with a joint release of the CCI-ILSTC International Cooperation Initiative (Chongqing), which calls on all parties along the corridor to facilitate trade, promote investment, strengthen economic cooperation, and encourage innovation and inclusiveness, among others.

Officials participate in a ceremonial countdown of the official release of the CCI-ILSTC International Cooperation Initiative. (iChongqing/Truman PENG)

WCIFIT 2021 incorporated a host of thematic exhibitions, summits and forums, trade and economic negotiations, and agreement signing ceremonies, boasting a total exhibition floor area of 110,000 square meters, covering more than half of the exhibition halls in Chongqing International Expo Center.

The thematic exhibitions were held at the N1 – N8 halls, or the International Exhibition Hall, Regional Cooperation Hall, Chengdu-Chongqing Economic Circle Exhibition Hall, Chongqing Exhibition Hall, Famous Enterprises Exhibition Hall, Auto, and Motor Industry Exhibition Hall, and Big Health Industry Exhibition Hall, respectively.

During the four-day expanse of WCIFIT 2021, there have also been organized more than 100 major forums, seminars, conferences, and negotiations, which led to the signing and launching of over 500 investment cooperation projects, according to the organizing committee.

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