SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China will hold a scaled-down version of its annual import fair in Shanghai this week, a rare in-person trade event held during the pandemic and a chance for the country to show its economic resilience amid the global uncertainty.
China is set to be the only major economy to grow this year after largely bringing the epidemic under control after it first emerged in the central city of Wuhan last year.
The China International Import Expo (CIIE) will run from Nov. 5-10, though President Xi Jinping will deliver an opening address via a video link on Wednesday evening, shortly after polls close in the U.S. presidential election.
“It signals that China is getting back to normal, China is still open for business,” said Zhu Tian, a professor of economics and associate dean at the China Europe International Business School in Shanghai.
“It’s a contrast to the rest of the world.”
Though the exhibition is focused on buying foreign goods, critics say it does little to address structural issues with China’s export-dominant trade practices.
Despite frictions between China and the United States over trade and other issues, Ford Motor Co <F.N>, Nike Inc <NKE.N> and Qualcomm Inc <QCON.O> are among the participants in the exhibition.Few, if any, foreign business and political leaders are expected to attend in person, however, due in part to COVID-19.
Last year, China hosted more than 3,000 companies and French President Emmanuel Macron, and said that deals worth $71.13 billion were agreed there.
Restrictions introduced because of the coronavirus have limited the exhibition to 30% of its maximum occupancy, and the Shanghai government said about 400,000 people have registered this year, compared with almost a million visitors in 2019.
Attendees must take a nucleic acid test and provide temperature check records for the previous two weeks, and anyone travelling from overseas must undergo a 14-day quarantine.
Some executives said they were put off coming by the requirements. Carlo D’Andrea, chairman of the Shanghai chapter of the European Chamber, said details on logistics were released later than its members had expected, making it difficult for those that wanted to bring in overseas guests.
(Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)