China's Xi vows lower tariff, more imports

Xi Jinping has said China will lower import tariffs and continue to broaden market access, amid heightened trade tensions with the US.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has said his country will lower import tariffs and continue to broaden market access, at the opening of a trade expo seen as an attempt by Beijing to counter mounting criticism of its trade and business practices.

Xi also promised to accelerate opening of the education, telecommunications and cultural sectors, while protecting foreign companies' interests and enhancing punitive enforcement for infractions of intellectual property rights.

The remarks come at a time of heightened tension between China and some of its biggest trade partners, particularly the United States, which has imposed tariffs on $US250 billion worth of Chinese goods so far.

China has retaliated with $US110 billion worth of tariffs on US goods.

The November 5-10 China International Import Expo, or CIIE, brings thousands of foreign companies together with Chinese buyers in a bid to demonstrate the importing potential of the world's second-biggest economy.

Expectations had been low that Xi would announce bold new policies of the kind that many foreign governments and businesses have been seeking from Beijing.

Instead, people involved in planning meetings have said they were anticipating an event long on symbolism and short on substance meant to signal China's willingness to narrow trade deficits and openness.

Xi said the import expo showed China's desire to support global free trade, adding that countries of the world must pursue open policies and oppose protectionism.

China expects to import $US30 trillion worth of goods and $US10 trillion worth of services in the next 15 years, he said.

China imported $US1.84 trillion of goods in 2017, up 16 per cent from a year earlier, of which about $500 billion of goods came from the US.

US President Donald Trump has railed against China for what he sees as intellectual property theft, entry barriers to US business and a gaping US trade deficit. No senior US officials were set to attend the Shanghai event.

Trump is expected to meet Xi this month, but has said that if a deal is not made with China, he could impose tariffs on another $US267 billion in Chinese imports into the US.

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