6th China International Import Expo (CIIE) - Opening ceremony

Statement by Rebeca Grynspan, Secretary-General of UNCTAD

6th China International Import Expo (CIIE) - Opening ceremony

05 November 2023

Joining Hands in Development, Opening Up for the Future

Your excellency, Li Qiang, Premier of the People’s Republic of China, thank you for your wonderful speech.

Your excellencies, Heads of State and Government,

Dear authorities from governments and international organizations,

Distinguished delegates,

It is a great honour to be here in Shanghai, a city whose lights reach all corners of the globe. The theme of this Forum is “Joining Hands in Development, Opening Up for the Future.”

As China has proven, opening up is not just about removing trade barriers or encouraging investment; it is about opening minds to new ideas and hearts to cultural exchange.

As President Xi has said, development is not a zero-sum game. One nation’s success does not mean another’s downfall. On the contrary, in a multipolar world, healthy competition, trade bases in internationally agreed rules, and greater cooperation must be the way forward.

We are at the halfway point of the 2030 Agenda, and only 15 per cent of Sustainable Development Goals are on track. The SDGs are too big to fail, they are our last common agenda in a world in desperate need of solidarity and multilateralism.

And yet, we are going into the second half of the 2030 race with less accommodating conditions. Global GDP growth is slowing down to 2.4 per cent this year, despite the fact that China is growing at double that rate. Global trade is growing at only 1 per cent. Foreign direct investment has not recovered since the 2008 Financial Crisis. There is a 4 trillion-dollar SDG investment gap in the developing world, up from 2.5 trillion eight years ago. And 3.3 billion people now live in countries that spend more on servicing the debt than on either health or education.

These are the hard facts, but facts alone don’t change the world. Wang Yangming, the famous Ming dynasty scholar, once said: “To know and not to do, is to not yet know”. The only path forward is the path of tangible action. That is the message we heard from President Xi, the UN Secretary General, and world leaders in the recent Belt and Road Forum.

Your excellencies,

China knows what it is to act – at scale, with speed, and with purpose. We must be inspired by this energy.

This forum is a great opportunity. This expo is a powerful and well-established platform: a symbol of China’s commitment to balanced trade relations with the rest of the world, and especially with the developing countries, and small and medium size enterprises. This isn't only an expo of products; it is a marketplace of ideas, a confluence of cultures, and a starting point for new paradigms in global action and international cooperation.

So, in closing, allow me to wish this forum the greatest success. The stakes could not be higher.

Thank you.