Published: Tue, November 06, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Jack Ma Says the Trade War Is the 'Most Stupid Thing'

Jack Ma Says the Trade War Is the 'Most Stupid Thing'

President Xi Jinping renewed a pledge to increase China's imports, lower trade barriers, and strengthen protection of intellectual property rights (IPR) while also lashing out at countries who point their fingers at Beijing's policies without doing anything to improve their own business environment.

The China International Import Expo is part of official efforts to defuse trade tension while resisting pressure to roll back industry plans that Washington, Europe, Japan and other governments say violate its market-opening obligations.

Some of Xi's comments appeared to be directed toward the United States and its leader, President Donald Trump.

But none addresses US complaints about its technology policy that prompted Trump to impose penalty tariffs of up to 25 percent on $250 billion of Chinese imports.

In a veiled reference to the tariffs Trump has leveled against his country's exports, Xi told the inaugural China International Import Expo on Monday that "the practices of beggar-thy-neighbor" would lead to global stagnation.

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"We will continue to broaden market access", he added.

The trade showdown between Beijing and Washington has led each side to slap hundreds of billions of dollars in tariffs on each others' goods. While Trump has floated the possibility of a deal when he meets Xi in the coming weeks, they remain far apart on market access and government support for state-run enterprises.

Analysts cautioned that Xi's pledge on imports is not as impressive as it appears given that China's annual imports of goods and services have already reached more than $1.8 trillion and almost half a trillion dollars, respectively.

Ma's latest comments come just days before his e-commerce empire, which started out as a platform connecting buyers around the world with Chinese suppliers, kicks off an extravagant shopping festival on November 11 that will see tens of billions in sales transacted on its platforms.

Presidents or prime ministers from 17 countries were set to attend the expo, ranging from Russian Federation and Pakistan to the Cook Islands, though none from major Western nations.

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International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde also said there remained "room for even greater reform" in China's market. "It is important therefore to correct the trade imbalance and enable a fairer share of trade".

China ranks 59th out of 62 countries on openness to foreign direct investment, according to an Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development ranking.

But the lure of China remains strong and the USA contingent includes even tech giants such as Facebook, which is blocked in China, and Google, which pulled out years ago over censorship and cyber-attacks.

Both are seen as eyeing new ways into China's giant market.

In an attempt to showcase its commitment to globalisation, willingness to open its market and buy more from other countries, China had made a decision to hold an import fair in the country.

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Democratic leaders may even end up being very critical of any type of relaxation on China trade if Trump begins to reach an agreement with Beijing.

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