IMF chief hails China's effort in building 'bridges' to common prosperity, calls for free trade

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International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Christine Lagarde lauded on Monday China's efforts in building "bridges" to achieve common prosperity with opening up and reform measures.

In her speech at the opening ceremony of the first China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai, Lagarde associated the Lupu Bridge she crossed the previous night in the coastal city with three other "bridges" that China has built or is building now.

Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund Christine Lagarde addresses the opening ceremony of the first China International Import Expo in Shanghai, east China, Nov. 5, 2018. [Photo/Xinhua]

The first, Lagarde said, was the "bridge to the world" that China started to build 40 years ago. It was constructed by opening its economy and by kickstarting reforms which later "changed the lives and prospects of hundreds of millions of people -- here and beyond China."

By trade, hard work and learning from others, China has helped to transform the global economy, said Lagarde, adding that progress in China has played a significant role in boosting productivity, innovation and living standards in countries around the globe.

Now, she continued, China is building a "bridge to prosperity" by rebalancing its economy towards consumption-led growth, rather than export- and investment-led growth.

This transition, symbolized by the CIIE, is good for China, especially in terms of rising standards of living for the Chinese people, and also good for the world, including all those who consider China as a vital and vibrant market for their goods and services, said the IMF chief.

China's current account surplus is projected to be less than 1 percent of GDP this year, compared with about 10 percent in 2007, Lagarde pointed out, saying that meanwhile, China is building a "bridge to the future" by harnessing the power of international cooperation, especially on trade.

"On behalf of the IMF, I have called on all countries to de-escalate and resolve the current trade disputes and to fix the global trade system, not destroy it. To achieve these goals, we need more international cooperation, not less -- and that goes well beyond economics," she said.

She quoted French philosopher Montesquieu as saying that "wherever there is good citizenship, there is trade, and wherever there is trade, there is good citizenship."

Trade has the capacity to boost innovation, foster not only prosperity but also peace within countries and among nations, she added.

Themed "New Era, Shared Future," the six-day CIIE sets up a platform for more than 3,600 companies from 172 countries, regions and international organizations to showcase their achievements and to look for more chances of international cooperation.

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