A visitor poses for photos with Jinbao, mascot of the China International Import Expo (CIIE), during the second CIIE in Shanghai, east China, Nov. 8, 2019. (Xinhua/Liu Ying)
As host of an annual expo helping global exporters trade with one of the world's largest markets, China is playing a key role in preserving multilateralism, said a leading economist.
Jose Luis de la Cruz, director of Mexico's Institute for Industrial Development and Economic Growth, was referring to the China International Import Expo (CIIE), whose second edition is underway in Shanghai.
While many countries stage trade fairs with an eye to boosting their own industries, the CIIE is exclusively designed as a venue for foreign producers and exporters to access China's 1.4 billion-strong consumer market.
China is the only country in the world that organizes this type of event, said De la Cruz. "I think it reflects China's global importance precisely as a precursor of international trade."
In recent years, especially the past decade, China has been open to trade with the entire world, and that "benefits not only China's development, but also the world's," he said.
During the opening of the expo on Tuesday, China urged countries to firmly oppose protectionism and unilateralism to build an open global economy marked by cooperation.
One of the biggest challenges facing nations in the 21st century is tackling inequality, the expert noted, and multilateralism is the way to generate greater equality, especially among less-developed countries.
De la Cruz, who serves as president of the Economic Studies Commission at Mexico's Confederation of Industrial Chambers, believes China is reaffirming the pro-multilateral strategy it has applied in the past 10 years through such initiatives as the Belt and Road.
The global development plan aims to spur economic growth through increased trade and connectivity between the world's different regions, he said.
De la Cruz said he is in favor of China's proposal to keep reducing trade barriers, and improve value chains and global supply chains to stimulate the market.
The challenge now "is to get the world to understand China's message" of greater economic integration, said De la Cruz.
Nearly 4,000 companies from 155 countries and regions are taking part in CIIE, which continues through Sunday.