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Introduction
The 54th Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum will provide a crucial space to focus on the fundamental principles driving trust, including transparency, consistency and accountability.
This annual meeting will welcome representatives of over 100 governments, all major international organizations, 1,000 forum partners, as well as civil society leaders, experts, youth representatives, social entrepreneurs, and news outlets.
WTO chief says Chinese economy to help boost global growth
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, director-general of the World Trade Organization (WTO), speaks at the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting 2024 in Davos, Switzerland, Jan 18, 2024. [Photo/Xinhua]

DAVOS, Switzerland -- China plays a key role in boosting global economic growth, World Trade Organization (WTO) Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has said.

"China has always been able to come up with instruments to help stimulate the economy, and we're fully expecting that the government still has room to do quite a lot," Okonjo-Iweala told Xinhua in an exclusive interview on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos on Thursday.

With some measures already taken by China, she said, the Chinese economy is expected "to be able to begin to rebound."

Since its accession to the WTO more than 20 years ago, China has become the world's largest trader of goods and a major trading partner for over 140 countries and regions, contributing an average of nearly 30 percent to the world's annual economic growth.

Highlighting China's key role in boosting global trade and global economic growth, Okonjo-Iweala said, "Whatever happens to China impacts the world and that's why it's in the interest of everyone for the Chinese economy to perform well."

According to the National Bureau of Statistics, China's GDP posted a 5.2 percent year-on-year growth in 2023, reflecting a strong post-COVID rebound.

"China plays a very strong role and we would like to see the Chinese economy come back strongly, because that will boost global trade. It will boost global growth. It's not just about China alone, but it's also about the rest of the world," she said.

Global trade outlook

In October, the Geneva-based trade body said merchandise trade would increase by just 0.8 percent in 2023, compared with its April estimate of 1.7 percent. For this year, it predicted a 3.3 percent growth in goods trade.

"We had forecasted 0.8 percent growth for global trade last year, it was a year in which global goods trade was a little bit weak in terms of performance. We were more bullish about 2024, we forecast that 3.3 percent growth," Okonjo-Iweala said.

"But given the disruptions we've seen in the Red Sea, and the Suez Canal, and the higher costs of container freight and shipping and insurance that we are seeing, we think this will have an impact," she said.

"Aggregate demand is down overall, and it may go down further and this will have an impact. We think that the forecast we had of 3.3 percent is a little too optimistic for this year," she added.

Calls for multilateralism

Commending China's role in defending the multilateral trading system, Okonjo-Iweala said, "China, from the standpoint of the WTO, has been a strong supporter of the multilateral trading system and multilateralism."

China has been not only a beneficiary of the multilateral trading system, but also beneficial to the multilateral trading system, she added.

"We hope that that will continue and that China will continue to be a strong member that will also help the WTO to solve some of the problems of global trade that we see emerging," she said.

Okonjo-Iweala also called on WTO members to abide by the global rules of trade, "which we would like to see everyone work together on in a multilateral system."

Every member of the organization should work within the multilateral rules of trade, she said.

WTO chief: Trade key to restore global growth
By Xing Yi in London
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, director-general of the WTO, speaks at a panel discussion in Davos, Switzerland on Friday. [Photo / World Economic Forum]

Despite geopolitical tensions and uncertainties, the world needs trade to restore growth, the head of the World Trade Organization told audiences at the World Economic Forum, which concluded on Friday in Davos, Switzerland.

Attending a panel on "The Global Economic Outlook", Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, director-general of the WTO, admitted that trade was considerably down last year, but she remained optimistic about 2024, forecasting a 3.3-percent growth of global trade value.

Okonjo-Iweala agreed with other panelists that the world is "moving towards normalization", but at the same time, conditions are "not normal", and she pointed to disruptions at two major canals: The Red Sea crisis is impacting the Suez Canal, while climate change-induced drought is affecting the Panama Canal.

"There are so many uncertainties and, of course, all the elections that we see around the world and what that may bring," she said.

But despite these challenges, Okonjo-Iweala identifies new forms of trade as opportunities for growth.

"Trade has been a force for resilience, and there are some bright spots in trade that we need to be conscious of," she said, highlighting the 8-percent annual growth in digital services trade and the tripling of the value of green trade, encompassing clean energy, green products, and services since 2000.

"Without a free flow of trade, I don't think we can recover," she said in another session exploring the role of trade and investment as a driver of economic growth.

Stressing a two-way relationship between growth and trade, she said the WTO is negotiating an investment facilitation agreement with 110 countries, to help developing countries "sweep away barriers" for investment to flow in.

Xinhua contributed to the story.

Trade, investment crucial for continued recovery: WEF
People in the audience of the 54th World Economic Forum took photos of the panelists at "The Global Economic Outlook" session on Friday. [Photo / World Economic Forum]

DAVOS, Switzerland - Trade and investment remain essential for the continued recovery of the global economy, participants said at the 54th World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting here this week.

"Without a free flow of trade, I don't think we can recover," Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, director-general of the World Trade Organization (WTO), said in a session exploring the role of trade and investment as a driver of economic growth.

Stressing a two-way relationship between growth and trade, she said the WTO is negotiating an investment facilitation agreement with 110 countries, in an effort to help developing countries "sweep away barriers" for investment to flow in and revitalize trade and growth.

According to Okonjo-Iweala, the WTO was "slightly less optimistic" about its projected 3.3 percent growth in commodity trade this year due to the tensions in the Red Sea and the downgrade of global growth.

"We are revising it, but I do not have the new numbers," she said.

In October, the WTO more than halved last year's global commodity trade forecast to 0.8 percent, compared to 1.7 percent estimated in April, but maintained its 3.3 percent growth forecast for 2024.

Global trade leaders at the WEF see significant opportunities for investment in growth across global supply chains, such as digital trade, services and green trade.

A mindset shift is needed, where trade and globalization are "embraced politically," said Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak, chief executive officer and managing director at Mubadala Investment Company of the United Arab Emirates. "With economic development comes prosperity, with prosperity comes stability, with stability, ultimately, you have peace."

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said that geopolitical instability also poses risks to supply chains and international trade.

Talking about the European Union's (EU) role in securing trade that would recover global growth, EU Commissioner for Trade Valdis Dombrovskis said the 27-member bloc is committed to preserving a rules-based multilateral trading system.

He said the geopolitical context is changing and becoming much more conflictual, posing the risk of economic fragmentation.

As the largest trading block in the world with the most comprehensive network of free trade agreements, the EU has a lot at stake when discussing the global trading system, he added.

"We really need to revive growth and investment, to see an inclusive job creating, and sustainable recovery," WEF President Borge Brende said.

Under the theme "Rebuilding Trust," the WEF annual meeting, scheduled for Jan. 15-19, focuses on four priorities: achieving security and cooperation in a fractured world; creating growth and jobs for a new era; harnessing artificial intelligence as a driving force for the economy and society, and formulating a long-term strategy for climate, nature, and energy.

Davos panel discuss US-China relationship

A panel discussion called "Decrypting the US-China Relationship" was held on the last day of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Let's check it out.

Video by Brian Chang.

Experts: consumer confidence key to China's growth

On Jan 17 at the World Economic Forum in Davos, "confidence" was frequently mentioned at a meeting on the theme of "Recharging Growth in China". China Daily also talked to Vivian Jiang, chair of Deloitte China. "I believe there are long-term sustainable growth drivers to our economy," she said.

Top investor Rubenstein upbeat on Chinese economy
People stand behind a logo of the World Economic Forum during the 54th annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, Jan 16, 2024. [Photo/Agencies]

DAVOS, Switzerland - Billionaire investor David Rubenstein has said he is bullish on the outlook of the Chinese economy over the next two years.

"China has had some challenges in the last year or so post-COVID. But I think the Chinese government has now recognized their challenges, and they are trying to address them," Rubenstein, co-founder of private equity giant Carlyle Group, told Xinhua on Tuesday on the sidelines of the ongoing World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting.

"So ... I think the worst is behind China. And I think we're probably going to do pretty well in the next year or two," Rubenstein said.

Rubenstein co-founded Carlyle in 1987 with William Conway Jr and Daniel D'Aniello. He now serves as co-chairman.

According to a Forbes estimate, Carlyle Group's assets under management are approaching $400 billion.

Rubenstein stressed that Carlyle Group will continue investing in China. "You never know where the best opportunities are coming from, but I think the opportunities that you now see are good."

On the theme of "Rebuilding Trust," the WEF's 54th Annual Meeting runs from Jan 15 to 19 at Davos, Switzerland.

Zhejiang University president urges joint efforts on sustainability at Davos

As the bank of talent and hub of scientific research, higher education institutions play a key role in tackling the burning challenges posed by climate change, said Du Jiangfeng, president of Zhejiang University, on Wednesday.

"In the face of these challenges, universities can contribute by conducting rigorous and actionable research," Du said in his address to his counterparts at the Global University Leaders Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Established in 2006, the Global University Leaders Forum, or GULF, is currently made up of the leaders of 29 top global higher education institutions, including Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Oxford University, and Cambridge University.

Apart from Zhejiang University, China's Tsinghua University, Peking University and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology are also part of the network.

A major intellectual community within the World Economic Forum, the GULF serves as an important platform for the participants to exchange ideas and collaborate on matters relating to higher education, research, and societal impact.

For this year's GULF, a key theme is to explore how universities across the world can join forces and make more headway toward sustainability.

Earlier this week, Zhejiang University released its first-ever Sustainable Development Goals report. Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn.

A UN progress report released in July 2023 on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) found that of the 140 targets that can be evaluated, half show "moderate or severe deviations" from the intended trajectory, and over 30 percent of them have experienced no progress or even regressed.

"We must invest in research that not only identifies the gaps in our current progress toward the SDGs but also offers innovative solutions to bridge these gaps," Du said.

Universities should also integrate the principles of sustainable development into their core curriculum, empowering students to become change-makers who possess not only technical expertise but also a strong sense of responsibility toward the planet and its inhabitants, according to Du.

Through the efforts, Zhejiang University seeks to create a fundamental engine that is able to drive sustainable development in the long run.

Earlier this week, Zhejiang University released its first-ever SDG report, giving a panoramic picture of ZJU's contributions to all 17 goals through education, research and efficient campus operations. According to the report, over the past five years, Zhejiang University faculty published over 82,500 research papers covering 17 SDG project areas, with specifically abundant output in SDG3 (Good Health and Well-being), SDG11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), and SDG7 (Affordable and Clean Energy).

Universities must also actively engage with governments, communities and the private sector to foster action on the ground, Du added.

"As key stakeholders for social development, collaboration between universities and enterprises is crucial in driving sustainable development," he said.

The 54th annual gathering of the World Economic Forum kicked off at the Swiss ski resort of Davos on Monday, bringing together more than 60 heads of state and government and some 800 chief executives, among a total of over 2,800 participants.

No member dominates BRICS, says South Africa's finance minister
By Zheng Wanyin in London

The BRICS mechanism is built on the basis of consensus and mutual respect, and no country in the organization holds a dominant position, said Enoch Godongwana, finance minister of South Africa.

Godongwana made the remarks on Thursday at a panel session titled BRICS in Expansion during the 54th Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

When asked whether China was dominating the BRICS grouping, the minister said: "There is no one dominating each other in BRICS. The institution is built on the basis that there is mutual respect. There is consensus in decision-making. Therefore, there can be no dominance."

"It's unlike the Bretton Woods institutions," Godongwana further pointed out. "The World Bank belongs to the Americans. The International Monetary Fund belongs to Europe. That is not questionable. And therefore, they have got to be dominant in those institutions. In BRICS, it's consensus."

Enoch Godongwana, minister of finance of South Africa, speaks about BRICS in expansion on Thursday, at a panel session of the 54th Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. [Photo/World Economic Forum]

The minister's replies drew applause from the audience.

The World Bank and the IMF were created during the Bretton Woods Conference in 1944 when the status of the dollar as the global reserve currency was also settled.

BRICS is an acronym for the five major emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, which were the founding countries of the intergovernmental organization.

In August 2023, it was announced that, in a historic expansion, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Argentina will become new members of BRICS. Argentina withdrew from its planned entry into the BRICS in December 2023.

zhengwanyin@mail.chinadailyuk.com

Experts optimistic as China navigates economic transition
By Wang Mingjie in Davos, Switzerland
Chinese Premier Li Qiang speaks during the 54th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Jan 16. [Photo by Wang Mingjie/China Daily]

Experts are maintaining an optimistic outlook on China's future trajectory as it navigates a crucial phase of economic transition.

The positive perspective is grounded in a robust new growth engine, characterized by a burgeoning middle class, evolving consumption patterns, substantial greenfield investment, and the integration of artificial intelligence and data into the economic landscape.

Official figures released on Wednesday revealed that the Chinese economy exceeded expectations by growing 5.2 percent in 2023, surpassing the government's set target of 5 percent.

Notably, consumption emerged as a significant growth driver.

Data from the National Bureau of Statistics revealed final consumption contributed 82.5 percent to GDP growth in 2023, with retail sales of consumer goods up 7.2 percent year-on-year to more than 47 trillion yuan ($6.6 trillion).

Kevin Rudd, Australia's ambassador to the United States. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

Speaking at a session during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Kevin Rudd, Australia's ambassador to the United States, emphatically dismissed the notion of "peak China" and underscored the significant role of the Chinese consumer.

"The Chinese consumer is the best guarantor of China's economic future. So long as the Chinese consumer has confidence in the future, the economy will continue to grow reasonably well – that's a core fact," he said.

"Remember, the scale of the Chinese consumer market is unprecedented in global economic history. I don't accept 'peak China' at all. I think it's intellectually and analytically flawed because of the untapped potential of Chinese consumer demand."

Premier Li Qiang, in his Davos address, highlighted China's supersized market with its rapidly unlocking demand. The middle-income bracket, currently comprising more than 400 million people, is projected to double, to 800 million, in the next decade.

Lu Minfang, CEO of Mengniu Dairy. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

Lu Minfang, CEO of Mengniu Dairy, a leading Chinese dairy company, shared insights into three key factors contributing to China's economic optimism during an interview with China Daily in Davos.

He emphasized the rapid expansion of the middle class as a massive consumer market. The second factor, according to Lu, involves strategic investments in green initiatives, data and AI, which are identified as the new engines driving economic growth. The third factor is attributed to the hard work of the Chinese people, who position China as a global leader in productivity.

Expressing confidence in China's commitment to carbon reduction for addressing climate change, Lu said: "In the future, even in industries like dairy, I can confidently say that when you calculate CO2 emissions per kilo of milk, China is going to be the lowest."

Lu further underscored the prevalent desire among the Chinese population for an improved quality of life, foreseeing advancements in food quality, nutrition and overall well-being. While acknowledging existing constraints in infrastructure, healthcare and education, he expressed his belief that the government is actively addressing these challenges.

"Once these issues are resolved, the release of buying power from Chinese consumers will propel market innovation and lead to enhancements in product quality," Lu said.

Vivian Jiang, chair of Deloitte China. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

Vivian Jiang, chair of Deloitte China, added her optimistic perspective, highlighting the net-zero economy as a catalyst for opportunity.

"The consumption behaviors of younger generations will be very different," she said. "And they will create many opportunities, whether from service consumption or any other areas, such as entertainment, outdoor sports, pet economies."

Jiang said she sees a multitude of possibilities arising from the unique preferences and lifestyles of the younger demographic.

Taking a digital market perspective, Jiang emphasized the transformative potential of technology, stating: "China probably has the biggest market for user cases … there is a place for businesses to test the commercial viability of those innovations."

Ben Cavender, managing director of the China Market Research Group. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

Ben Cavender, managing director of the China Market Research Group, highlighted China's ongoing economic transition after two decades of consistent high growth driven by government-led initiatives.

"Investments in infrastructure, exports and real estate all made sense from a policy perspective as there were clear, easy gains for the economy and for the quality of lives of everyday Chinese," he said.

As of 2024, the economic landscape has become more intricate, prompting Cavender to note that many previously effective growth strategies have been implemented.

Recognizing this, he said the Chinese government is adopting a more measured approach to economic reform.

Looking ahead, he suggested China is poised to secure a global leadership position in industries with substantial economic potential during the next five decades.

"So, it is likely that we see economic support targeted at industries with room to scale, like the auto industry, semiconductors, or renewable energy. It would also be good if there is deeper support for small, private enterprise as this ultimately will be where most job creation happens in an advanced economy," he added.

wangmingjie@mail.chinadailyuk.com

Sinopec signs agreement with BP to enhance cooperation
By Zheng Xin
A Sinopec logo is seen in Changzhou, Jiangsu province on Jan 24, 2023. [Photo/VCG]

China Petroleum and Chemical Corp, also known as Sinopec, has reached an agreement with UK oil and gas giant BP to deepen their cooperation in the exploration of new energy transformation opportunities during the World Economic Forum in Davos, the company shared on Thursday.

The two parties signed a memorandum of understanding to further cooperate on new energy transformation, new energy vehicle charging and related areas to better serve China's fast-developing NEV market, it said.

Efforts will also be made to enhance their sustained partnership in refined oil, natural gas and other fields, said Sinopec, China's largest refined oil and petrochemical product supplier as well as the world's biggest oil refiner.

Both Sinopec and BP have been looking to expand their share of the rapidly growing EV charging market in China.

zhengxin@chinadaily.com.cn

UN secretary-general: global crisis in trust stems from AI and climate change

Antonio Guterres, UN secretary-general, spoke about the challenges of climate change and artificial intelligence at the World Economic Forum on Wednesday in Davos, Switzerland.

Video by Brian Chang.

Arab speakers at Davos call for Gaza cease-fire and two-state solution
By JAN YUMUL in Hong Kong
Ziad Mansour, a neighbour of the Abu Aweidah family, sits next to writing painted on a wall amid the rubble of the family's house, which was destroyed in a deadly Israeli strike amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in Rafah, Gaza Strip, Jan 9, 2024. [Photo/Agencies]

Gulf powerhouse Saudi Arabia's potential recognition of Israel through peace for the Palestinians and a Palestinian state, as it reiterated at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland together with other speakers from the region, showcases the Arabs' will to achieve a two-state solution to end this contentious issue, say analysts.

They also said the Arab countries' consistent position on engaging with the Palestinians has become paramount, given the broader regional and global ramifications at stake.

Tensions in the Middle East region remained high on the agenda at the annual economic forum, which was attended by world leaders and senior government officials.

At a plenary session titled "Securing an Insecure World" at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Jan 16, Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah called for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza, and to pave the way for a credible process that empowers the Palestinian Authority, and allow for a path towards peace in the region, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

Prince Faisal also said that "we agree that regional peace includes peace for Israel", but he said that can only happen "through peace for the Palestinians and the establishment of the Palestinian state" while pointing out that Israel's current actions jeopardize the prospects for regional peace and security, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

Further, he stated that a cease-fire should be a starting point for lasting and sustainable peace, "achievable only through the establishment of true justice for the Palestinian people".

"Saudi's position has always been clear, without having an independent Palestinian state, there will be no normalization with Israel," Mehmet Rakipoglu, a Turkiye-based Gulf analyst and coordinator of academic studies at Dimensions for Strategic Studies, told China Daily.

He said resolving this issue would mean Israel's withdrawal from Gaza, to "stop killing innocent people", and "to stop its settlement policies", noting that other Arab countries "have been stating the same".

At a separate forum, also in Davos, Qatar Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani said the Palestinian cause was a central issue for the Middle East and the world.

He said that the international community's reaction to the war in the Gaza Strip was disappointing for the people of the region and that there was a need to find an immediate solution and ways to" end the war as soon as possible, and to release both hostages and Palestinian prisoners", according to the Qatar Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Further, Al-Thani also pointed out that the situation in the West Bank was not better than what is happening in the Gaza Strip, as "there may not be comprehensive bombing, but there are killings and violence by settlers", and "the extremist government calling for ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people".

Saudi's Prince Faisal also raised the Red Sea issue, emphasizing his country's concern for regional security and freedom of navigation in the Red Sea.

"We need to focus on the situation in Gaza, not because of what is happening in the Red Sea, but because of its impact on the Palestinians first and on regional security in general," Saudi's Prince Faisal said.

"International undertaking, especially from Arab countries, to establish normal ties with Israel was frequently interpreted by the Israeli government as tacit approval of the status quo that Israel has imposed on the Palestinians, which also rendered Palestinians more susceptible to Israeli colonial actions," Belal Alakhras, a political analyst and Palestinian researcher at the University of Malaya in Malaysia, told China Daily.

He said the resulting impression in Israel was that it "can circumvent the Palestinians, as acknowledgment and normalized dealings become conceivable over time" while a prevailing concern for Israel revolves around the fear of international isolation and rejection, particularly following widespread killing and destruction in Gaza since Oct 7.

"Indeed, the events of Oct 7 underscored the profound and enduring nature of the Palestinian issue, revealing its intricacies beyond the scope of mere peace process and normalization," said Alakhras.

"Instead, it is more obvious now that addressing Palestinian rights and engaging with the Palestinians becomes paramount, given the broader regional and global ramifications at stake. Failure to prioritize these aspects risks entrenching the region in a precarious trajectory, influenced by both political and public sentiment dynamics," he added.

Premier says China welcomes foreign enterprises to invest
By CAO DESHENG in Davos, Switzerland
Premier Li Qiang attends a luncheon hosted by founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum Klaus Schwab in Davos, Switzerland, Jan 16, 2024. [Photo/Xinhua]

Premier Li Qiang said on Tuesday that investing in China will bring huge returns and a better future, and China welcomes foreign enterprises to invest and do business in the country.

Li made the remarks in Davos, Switzerland while attending a luncheon hosted by Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, and exchanging views with heads of several multinational companies.

He said that multinational companies have been participants, witnesses, and beneficiaries of China's reform and opening up. He assured the business executives that the long-term positive development of China's economy will not change, and China will provide more development opportunities for enterprises of all countries.

Li pointed out that fragmented battles will only make it more difficult for the world economy to recover, emphasizing that China opposes all forms of camp division and confrontation, and will open its door wider to the outside world.

He said that China stands ready to seriously study and solve the difficulties and problems encountered by foreign-funded enterprises operating in China, ensures national treatment for foreign-funded enterprises, and creates a stable, fair, and predictable business environment.

Leaders of 14 multinational companies, including Walmart, JPMorgan Chase, Intel, BASF, Volkswagen, and Siemens, attended the luncheon.

They said that over the years, their investments in the Chinese market have achieved tremendous success, and they are confident of China's economic development and are willing to deepen cooperation with China, develop in China, and contribute to China's development.

Full text: Speech by Chinese premier Li Qiang at the opening ceremony of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2024
Chinese Premier Li Qiang speaks during the 54th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Jan 16, 2024. [Photo/Agencies]

DAVOS, Switzerland -- Chinese Premier Li Qiang on Tuesday delivered a special address here at the opening ceremony of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2024.

The following is the full text of the speech:

Special Address by H.E. Li Qiang

Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China

At the Opening Ceremony

Of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2024

Davos, Jan. 16, 2024

Your Excellency President Viola Amherd,

Professor Klaus Schwab,

Your Excellencies State Leaders and Heads of International Organizations,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Friends,

Greetings to you all. It gives me great pleasure to come to the beautiful Davos for the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2024.

The theme of this meeting, "Rebuilding Trust," echoes well with people's concerns and will surely strike a chord with many. As I see it, the word "rebuild" implies at least three things. First, trust was once prevalent. To a large extent, it was trust between countries that enabled the huge progress in economic globalization over the past decades. Second, the foundation of trust has now been eroded. The lack of trust is aggravating risks to global growth and peaceful development. Third, rebuilding trust is essential. Whether it is to overcome current difficulties, or to create a better future, it is essential that we discard prejudice, bridge differences and work as one to tackle the trust deficit.

Where does trust come from? In my view, it comes, first and foremost, from our shared aspiration for a better future for humanity and from our common will to work together for that vision. As President Xi Jinping points out, changes of the world, of our times, and of historical significance are unfolding like never before, and the world has entered a new period of turbulence and transformation. Yet the overall direction of human development and progress will not change, the overall dynamics of world history moving forward amid twists and turns will not change, and the overall trend toward a shared future for the international community will not change. After all the shifts and changes over the years, we should all the more cherish communication and exchange, all the more cherish solidarity and cooperation, all the more cherish openness and sharing, and all the more cherish peace and stability. These are not only ways to respond to changes, but in some sense, also ways to rebuild trust. In this connection, I wish to share with you five proposals on rebuilding trust and enhancing cooperation in the economic field.

First, strengthening macroeconomic policy coordination to build greater synergy for global growth. In today's world, countries have very close economic linkages, which means their macroeconomic policies have more notable spillover effects. In the face of global crises, fragmented and separate responses will only leave the world economy more fragile. As such, it is crucial that, in making and executing macro policies, countries around the world, especially major economies, step up dialogue and communication, take more coordinated and effective measures, firmly uphold the multilateral trading system, jointly improve global economic governance, and foster new drivers of global growth.

Second, strengthening international industrial specialization and collaboration to keep global industrial and supply chains stable and smooth. Figures show that from 2020 to 2022, each year saw on average over 5,400 new discriminatory trade and investment measures worldwide, nearly doubling the number before the pandemic. As we all know, industrial and supply chains in the economy are like the circulatory system of the human body. Any obstacles or disruptions can slow down or block the flow of lifeblood of the world economy, which not only compromises development efficiency but also triggers various economic risks and social problems. What truly serves the common interests of all is to fully respect the laws of international industrial specialization, firmly advance trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, tighten the bond of cooperation, make the pie of mutual benefit bigger, and steadily enhance the stability of global industrial and supply chains.

Third, strengthening international exchanges and cooperation on science and technology to better benefit humanity with technological advances. The new round of technological revolution and industrial transformation has created a new "coopetition" relationship between countries. To keep the competition healthy and bring out the greatest vitality, the only way is to enhance cooperation in innovation. Scientific and technological fruits should benefit humanity as a whole, instead of becoming a means to restrict or contain the development of other countries. We should advance international exchanges and cooperation on science and technology with a more open mindset and more open measures, work together for an open, just and nondiscriminatory environment for the development of science and technology, and break the barriers impeding the flow of factors of innovation, so as to let innovation thrive in an open environment.

Fourth, strengthening cooperation on green development to actively tackle climate change. Humanity still faces many challenges in addressing climate change and promoting green and low-carbon transition. Talks about the need for stronger cooperation on climate governance are often accompanied by actions of erecting barriers to green trade. Some high-quality and efficient green and low-carbon technologies and products cannot flow freely. It is important that we uphold the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, better synergize our green development strategies, remove various barriers in this field, and jointly work for a complete transition to a greener economy and society.

Fifth, strengthening North-South and South-South cooperation to build a universally beneficial and inclusive world economy. In recent years, problems like the North-South gap, divergences in recovery, and the technological divide have become more acute. Many developing countries are in distress. According to World Bank estimates for this year, the average income in more than one third of the low-income countries will stay below the 2019 level. We Chinese people believe that benefits should be mutual. True and good development is development for all. We need to fully implement the U.N. 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, strengthen global development cooperation, bridge development gaps, and create new cooperation highlights in areas such as poverty alleviation, food security and industrialization, so as to benefit the people of all countries with more fruits of cooperation.

The traditional Chinese culture very much values credibility. China is a country that attaches great importance to commitments, honoring its words with concrete actions all along. With the greatest sincerity, utmost efforts and concrete results, China has proven consistently to the world that it is a country most worthy of trust. We are also well aware that apart from objective reasons, there are also subjective factors that aggravate the trust deficit. In bilateral and multilateral relations, there are many examples where one side's capriciousness undermines mutual trust with others. In our view, the best way to earn trust is to be a better version of oneself. Only when all sides treat each other with sincerity and work in the same direction can there be a stronger foundation of trust and more fruits of cooperation.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Friends,

Under the current circumstances, the world economic recovery requires strong underpinnings. Greater contribution is expected from all countries, especially major economies. I know that you all follow the Chinese economy closely and may have your own observations. So how should one look at the Chinese economy? I believe it is similar to looking at the Alps, the undulating mountain range with magnificent peaks, from the small town of Davos. My European friends told me that to fully appreciate the majestic beauty of the Alps, one has to zoom out and look from afar. It is the same with the Chinese economy. One has to broaden the vision and take a panoramic view to see the whole picture in an objective and comprehensive manner and truly grasp where it is now and where it is going. Here I would like to share with you some perspectives on the Chinese economy.

First, the Chinese economy is making steady progress and will continue to provide strong impetus for the world economy. China is an important engine of global development. Over the years, its contribution to world economic growth has stayed at around 30 percent. In 2023, the Chinese economy rebounded and moved upward, with an estimated GDP growth of around 5.2 percent, higher than the around 5 percent target set at the beginning of the year. In promoting economic development, we did not resort to massive stimulus. We did not seek short-term growth while accumulating long-term risks. Rather, we focused on strengthening the internal drivers. As the second largest economy in the world, China has established, after years of development, sound and solid fundamentals. Just as a healthy person often has a strong immune system, the Chinese economy can handle ups and downs in its performance. The overall trend of long-term growth will not change. In terms of the industrial base, China is the only country with industries across all categories in the U.N. industrial classification. The added value of China's manufacturing industry accounts for around 30 percent of the global total, ranking first in the world for 14 consecutive years. China is also home to over 200 mature industry clusters. With its large scale, complete categories and strong supporting capacity, China's industrial system can meet the demand of the rapid development of social productivity and will contribute to better global allocation of production factors and the rise in global productivity. In terms of production factors, China's demographic dividend is turning into talent dividend. We now rank first in the world in terms of the size of talent pool, human resources in science and technology and the total number of researchers. Capital shortage is replaced by abundance. Our global share of annual capital formation has risen to about 30 percent. In addition, with its huge data output and rich data resources, China has the second largest data mine in the world. In terms of innovation capacity, China's total input in research and development and investment in the high-tech sector has been growing at double-digit rates for several years running. New technologies, including cloud computing, big data, artificial intelligence and blockchain, are being applied at a faster pace. New products and new business forms such as intelligent terminals, robots and telehealth keep emerging. China now has some 400,000 high-tech enterprises and ranks second globally in the number of unicorn companies. All this will boost the formation and cultivation of new growth drivers in China. Looking at the broader picture, we are now advancing Chinese modernization on all fronts through high-quality development. Delivering modernization to more than 1.4 billion people will be a remarkable achievement in human history, one that will provide continuous impetus to the development of China and the wider world.

Second, China has a supersize market with rapidly unlocked demand. It will continue to provide a big stage for various businesses and talents. In the face of weak global demand, market becomes the most scarce resource. The Chinese market, with its vast space and growing depth, will play an important role in boosting aggregate global demand. In China, there are now over 400 million people in the middle-income bracket, and the number is expected to reach 800 million in the next decade or so. For a growing range of products and services, the focus of consumer demand is shifting from quantity to quality, which will generate strong driving force for upgrading consumption. China's urbanization rate is now more than 10 percentage points lower than the average level of the developed countries. There is much room for infrastructural upgrading in urban renewal, transportation and telecommunications, among others. There are also some 300 million rural migrants who are acquiring permanent urban residency at a faster pace. These will create massive demand in areas such as housing, education, medical services and elderly care. China is deepening its transition toward green and low-carbon growth. Close to half of the world's installed photovoltaic capacity is in China. Over half of the world's new energy vehicles (NEVs) run on roads in China, and its NEV ownership has reached over 20 million units. China contributes one-fourth of the increased area of afforestation in the world. China is also cultivating large-scale new growth drivers in sectors such as green infrastructure, green energy, green transportation and green lifestyle. This will generate investment and consumption markets with an estimated size of RMB10 trillion yuan annually, and promises huge potential. We will keep exploring and unleashing such market demand, increase import of high-quality goods and services from all over the world, attract more foreign investment in areas including medium- and high-end manufacturing and biopharmaceuticals, and provide broader space for boosting global trade and investment.

Third, China remains firmly committed to opening up. We will continue to create favorable conditions for the world to share in China's opportunities. In the past four decades and more, China has achieved development and shared benefits with the world through opening up. Right now, China is a major trading partner of over 140 countries and regions. Our overall tariff level has been cut to 7.3 percent, relatively on par with the developed members in the World Trade Organization. By opening up wider, we aim to share China's opportunities and develop together with all in the world. To business leaders here today, I want to say that over the years, multinational corporations have cultivated the Chinese market and, based on China's manufacturing prowess, expanded their global production, grown fast and had good rewards. In the past five years, the return on foreign direct investment in China stands at around nine percent, which is quite competitive globally. Choosing the Chinese market is not a risk, but an opportunity. We embrace investments from businesses of all countries with open arms, and will work tirelessly to foster a market-oriented, law-based and world-class business environment. We will steadily expand institutional opening up, continue to shorten the negative list for foreign investment, follow through on removing all restrictions on access for foreign investment in the manufacturing sector, and guarantee national treatment for foreign businesses. With regard to concerns of some multinationals on issues such as cross-border data flow and equal participation in government procurement, we are working on the formulation of relevant policies. We will also hear the views of foreign businesses regularly and take active steps to address reasonable concerns. All in all, no matter how the world changes, China will stay committed to the fundamental national policy of opening up and open its door still wider to the world.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Friends,

In some 20 days, we will celebrate the Spring Festival to usher in the Chinese Year of the Dragon. In traditional Chinese culture, the dragon is a symbol of auspiciousness, wisdom and strength. In the face of common challenges, we hope that all the members of the international community, with a shared aspiration for a better future and with the vigor of a flying dragon, will forge ahead toward building a community with a shared future for mankind.

To conclude, I wish this annual meeting a complete success.

Thank you.

PwC Global Chairman Bob Moritz: China's climate transformation set to accelerate

PwC Global Chairman Bob Moritz says China has the ability to scale up innovation quickly.

"We've seen over the last 20 to 25 years when China makes a determination to do something, the ability to scale that quickly comes to life, whereas other countries might not have that ability for whatever reason," he said in an interview with China Daily at Davos meeting.

Reporter: Wang Mingjie

Video: Han Jing

Chinese premier says China to stay committed to partnership with EU

DAVOS -- China stands ready to work with the European Union (EU) to stay committed to partnership, stick to dialogue and cooperation, pursue mutual benefit and win-win results, and properly handle differences under the principle of mutual understanding and respect, Chinese Premier Li Qiang said here Tuesday.

In today's world that is fraught with changes and turbulence, China-EU ties remain stable among major-country relationships, which is a result of joint efforts from both sides, Li said when meeting with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2024.

As Chinese President Xi Jinping noted, China-EU ties bear strategic significance and global influence, Li said, adding that deepening relations with the EU is always a diplomatic priority for China.

China is willing to work with the EU to implement the important consensus reached in the China-EU Summit, and make bilateral ties more stable, constructive, reciprocal and global, so as to better promote the prosperity and development of China, the EU and the larger world, he said.

China stands ready to import more products from the EU that align with market demand, and hopes the EU will relax export restrictions on high-tech products to China, he said, adding that it is hoped that the two sides will work together in the same direction to push for more balanced development in bilateral trade.

The Chinese premier noted that China will continue to foster a world-class business environment that is market-oriented, law-based and internationalized, and is willing to work with the EU to jointly abide by the basic norms governing market economy such as free trade, fair competition and open cooperation.

It is hoped that the EU will uphold justice, compliance and transparency in economic and trade matters, treat Chinese enterprises fairly, and prudently introduce restrictive economic and trade policies and deploy trade remedies, Li said.

He called on the two sides to take the next meeting of the China-EU High-Level People-to-People Dialogue mechanism as an opportunity to strengthen dialogue and cooperation in education, science and technology, culture and tourism, and accelerate the resumption of personnel exchanges, so as to inject new vitality into China-EU relations.

For her part, von der Leyen said the EU appreciates China's continuous opening up and does not intend to decouple from China.

She said the EU is ready to strengthen dialogue and communication with China and work with China to deepen cooperation in tackling climate change and promoting the reform of the World Trade Organization, enhance people-to-people exchanges, and push for further development of EU-China relations.

WEF President Borge Brende welcomes Chinese delegation

“China is also still very open for international business and also plays a major role with the Global South,” he said in an interview with China Daily. “If you want to get anything done in international negotiations, China has to be part of it.”

Reporter: Wang Mingjie

Video: Han Jing

Chinese premier meets with Singaporean president in Davos
By Cao Desheng in Davos, Switzerland

Premier Li Qiang stated China's position on the Taiwan question on Tuesday when he met with Singaporean president Tharman Shanmugaratnam in Davos, Switzerland, with the latter assuring him that Singapore adheres to the one-China principle.

The president said that Singapore firmly opposes words and deeds of "Taiwan independence" in any form, and its position on the Taiwan question remains unchanged.

They met on the sidelines of the 54th Annual Meeting of World Economic Forum in Davos.

On bilateral ties, Li said that China is willing to work with Singapore to implement the important consensus reached by the leaders of both countries, maintain a high level of strategic mutual trust, expand comprehensive and mutually beneficial cooperation, and continuously achieve new results in China-Singapore relations and cooperation.

China is ready to leverage the upgraded China-Singapore Free Trade Agreement to promote bilateral cooperation and create new cooperative outcomes in areas such as trade and investment, connectivity, and finance.

Shanmugaratnam said that the Singapore-China relationship has reached a new stage.

Singapore attaches great importance to the Singapore-China relationship and is willing to deepen dialogue and communication in various fields, strengthen cooperation in finance, digital economy, green transformation, and other areas, and continuously advance the Singapore-China relationship, he said.

PwC Global Chairman Bob Moritz: China continues its opening-up

Premier Li Qiang delivered a special address on the opening day of the World Economic Forum in Davos on Tuesday, highlighting China's economic growth and its potential for foreign investment. China Daily spoke to Bob Moritz, chairman of PwC Global, about China opening its economy to the world.

Reporter: Wang Mingjie

Video: Brian Chang

Chinese premier urges EU to uphold justice, compliance and transparency in economic, trade matters
People stand behind a logo of the World Economic Forum during the 54th annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, Jan 16, 2024. [Photo/Agencies]

DAVOS, Switzerland -- It is hoped that the European Union (EU) will uphold justice, compliance and transparency in economic and trade matters, treat Chinese enterprises fairly, and prudently introduce restrictive economic and trade policies and deploy trade remedies, Chinese Premier Li Qiang said here Tuesday.

Li made the remarks when meeting with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2024.

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