Li focuses on consumption

Updated: 2013-03-26 00:11

By DING QINGFEN (China Daily)

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$10 trillion boost for imports as premier guarantees fairness

Premier Li Keqiang said on Monday that China is likely to import as much as $10 trillion worth of commodities and services in the next five years to boost domestic consumption.

Li renewed the nation's pledge to maintain its open policy, and promised a further opening up of services and industries related with energy-saving and environmental protection.

Li focuses on consumption

Premier Li Keqiang explains his late arrival to a meeting of business leaders of major companies who attended the China Development Forum on Monday at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. wu zhiyi / china daily

In response to concerns expressed by multinational companies about the investment environment, Li also pointed out that the government will ensure foreign businesses fair access to the market and a level playing field in terms of competition.

Li was speaking during a meeting with representatives and executive officers from about 100 multinationals who attended the two-day China Development Forum in Beijing.

During the forum, the delegates submitted a report on how foreign businesses could get involved in facilitating the world's second-largest economy in achieving sustainable and stable growth amid the European debt crisis. The report consists of six parts; innovation, urbanization, financial and bond markets, industrial upgrades and business climate.

"China will expand its opening-up policy, and the nation needs to promote domestic consumption through continuing to open up its markets," Li said in his closing remarks.

The nation will prioritize opening up its service sector to foreign companies, he said. "It (opening-up) has to be realized step-by-step."

Energy-saving and environmental protection are other key areas where domestic companies lag behind their foreign peers and requires "cooperation" with them, he added.

At the first press conference after taking up his post earlier this month, the newly elected premier said the highest priority for China is to maintain sustain-able economic growth and he pledged to advance economic reform including tapping the potential of domestic demand.

As part of the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15), the government has vowed to expand domestic consumption to help the nation transform its economic growth model away from an overreliance on exports.

China is facing two unprecedented transformations. One is for a nation of 1.3 billion people to complete its modernization process. The other is the challenge that it has to address and implement policies that will ensure this, especially concerning climate change, green development and environmental protection, said Li.

Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli said on Sunday at the opening of the forum that China will "deepen its reform and opening-up policies with greater courage and more wisdom" even with increasing downward economic pressures.

Sustaining robust economic growth is a major concern, said analysts.

A GDP growth target of 7.5 percent was set for this year.

On the way to maintaining sustainable economic growth, China is facing "huge opportunities and complicated and severe challenges," and "we have to rely on domestic consumption in the long-term," with "urbanization" being a major contributor to it, Li said.

But he pointed out that domestic consumption is, in itself, not enough to stimulate the economy, and "efficient supply" created through the opening-up to foreign businesses is "vital to meet demand".

Where Chinese companies lag behind their foreign counterparts, in particular, is service and green industries, he said.

The foreign direct investment that helped to transfer technology and create jobs has long been a driver to the economy. China is the second-largest nation worldwide next to the United States as an FDI destination, and has ranked as the most attractive FDI recipient among emerging markets for many years.

Li emphasized the significance of providing an equal and transparent environment for foreign businesses, saying that China will formulate and standardize rules and regulations to protect intellectual property rights and commercial secrets.

"We encourage fair competition, mutual cooperation and support," he said.