Gao Feng: Members of the press, good afternoon. Welcome to the Regular Press Conference of MOFCOM. I do not have announcements to make today and would like to take your questions. The floor is open.
Economic Information Daily: Recently, 28 departments have issued the implementation plan to step up the cultivation of new consumption. What specific measures will the Ministry of Commerce take for the implementation? As an important area of new consumption, the Ministry of Commerce said that it was preparing the development plan of e-commerce during the 14th Five-Year Plan Period. What are the specific directions and progress so far?
Gao Feng: In recent years, new consumption such as online shopping, online meal ordering and cross-border e-commerce has developed rapidly, playing an important role in consumption upgrading and meeting people's needs for a better life. In 2020, the online retail sales of physical goods in China reached RMB9.8 trillion, an increase of 14.8% year-on-year, accounting for nearly a quarter of the total retail sales of consumer goods. Cross-border e-commerce retail imports exceeded RMB100 billion, up nearly 20% year-on-year.
In order to support the development of new consumption and build a complete domestic demand system, the Ministry of Commerce will work with relevant departments on the following areas:
First, creating new consumption network junctures. We will step up the cultivation and development of international consumption center cities, promote the renovation and upgrading of pedestrian streets with high quality, and build a number of landmark business districts. At the same time, centered on the daily needs of residents, we will create a fifteen-minute community service circle, bring convenience service facilities into the community, and build and renovate a number of convenience commercial facilities such as convenience stores, vegetable markets, breakfast shops and repair shops for better comfort and convenience.
Second, we will improve the infrastructure of commercial distribution. We will encourage large commercial distributors to develop in rural areas, and foster and transform a series of commercial centers in towns and townships. We will expand the coverage of e-commerce in rural areas, move faster to put in place a full-fledged logistic distribution system covering counties, townships and villages, help set up a number of processing facilities to turn agricultural products into merchandise, work quickly to improve cold-chain logistics of agricultural products, as well as upgrade and renovate a number of public-interest wholesale markets selling agricultural products, farmers’ markets and food markets .
Third, we will develop new distribution forms and models. We will push for faster digitization, smart transformation, and cross-sector integration of physical businesses and firms, develop smart supermarkets, shops and restaurants, and push for broader, deeper integration of online and on-site businesses. We will develop the first-store economy and the official-launch economy, and encourage localities to foster a number of clusters of nighttime consumption in light of their conditions. We will develop cross-border e-commerce and expand import of quality products. We will foster green shopping malls and build new systems to recycle renewable resources to facilitate the smooth circulation and recycling of resources.
Fourth, we will create a safe and reliable environment for consumption. We will place equal emphasis on development and regulation, move faster to improve the systems, regulations and standards in the distribution sector, speed up the building of a commercial credit system, and do a good job in organizing activities during the month for publicizing goog-faith business operations. We will put in place a new, full-fledged regulatory mechanism based on credit and facilitate the sound, sustained, and standardized development of new types of consumption.
As regards the 14th five-year plan on developing e-commerce you just mentioned, we have handed out questionnaires to firms and the public as well as solicited the opinions and recommendations of experts, scholars and local commerce authorities. We are now intensifying work on the formulation of the plan, which is scheduled to be published in the second half of this year. Thank you.
Phoenix TV: We have taken notice that the US Trade Representative Katherine Tai said in a recent media interview that the US wasn’t ready to lift tariffs on Chinese imports in the near future, but might be open to trade negotiations with Beijing. What’s China’s comments on that? Have there been any communication between the Chinese and US economic and trade teams lately?
Gao Feng: China always opposes unilaterally-imposed tariff measures, which are detrimental to China, the US and the rest of the world. Commercial ties between China and the US, the two largest economies in the world, should be mutually-beneficial and win-win in nature. The two sides should address each other’s reasonable concerns through dialogues and consultation on the basis of mutual respect and equality. Thank you.
The Paper: The 14th Five-Year Plan proposed to put in place a full-fledged negative-list system on cross-border trade in services. MOFCOM once proposed to formulate a negative list on cross-border trade in services in pilot free trade zones. What progress has been made in drafting the negative list on cross-border trade in services?
Gao Feng: Regarding the negative list for cross-border trade in services you asked about, according to related work plans, the negative list for cross-border trade in services of Hainan Free Trade Port will be the first of its kind released by China. MOFCOM is working with Hainan province and related departments to move forward related work for its early release.
On the basis of the Hainan list, MOFCOM will work with related parties to formulate the negative list for cross-border trade in services of pilot free trade zones with reference to the realities of their development. We will further widen the pilot and push the FTZs to converge with high-standard international business and trade rules, deepen institutional opening up, so as to explore the path and accumulate experience for a sound management system of the negative list for cross-border trade in services. Thank you.
Reuters: It is reported that China and the DPRK will resume pre-Covid trade arrangements in April. What is your comment on the report?
Gao Feng: Regarding this question, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign affairs has given a response. I don’t have more information to share. Thank you.
Shanghai Securities News: MOFCOM issued a ruling to impose anti-dumping duties on Australian wine. It is reported that the Australian trade minister has indicated that they might next consider taking the case to the WTO. What is MOFCOM’s response?
Gao Feng: To take anti-dumping measures is a legitimate right granted by the WTO to its members. In August 2020, in response to a petition of the domestic industry, MOFCOM opened an anti-dumping investigation on related wine imported from Australia. After investigation, MOFCOM ruled according to law that trade remedy measures should be taken correspondingly. The ruling report shows that the relevant wine imported from Australia was dumped and caused substantial damage to China's domestic industry, and the anti-dumping measures are taken in accordance with WTO rules and relevant provisions of China's domestic laws. Thank you.
Cover News: Recently, MOFCOM started to solicit public comments on its website on two industry standards, including the Quality Standards for the Export of Used Passenger Vehicles. What are China’s advantages in the export of used vehicles? What are the considerations behind the formulation of the Quality Standards? What positive role will it play in stabilizing foreign trade growth?
Gao Feng: Expanding the export of used vehicles is an important way to promote the upgrading of domestic automotive consumption and the smooth flow of domestic and international dual circulation of the automotive industry. Since 2019, the Ministry of Commerce, in conjunction with the Ministry of Public Security, the General Administration of Customs and other departments, have promoted and supported 30 regions’ used vehicle export business, which has achieved positive results. Overall, China's used vehicle exports are still at an early stage and have great potential for future development, with the following main advantages.
First, China has abundant supply and a complete range of second-hand vehicles. In 2020, China’s car park reached 280 million, ranking first in the world. According to China Automobile Dealers Association, the trading volume of second-hand vehicles in China amounted to 14.34 million in 2020, providing sufficient supply of exported second-hand vehicles. Second, China’s second-hand vehicles are very cost-effective and competitive in the global market. Many second-hand vehicles that are in good condition and at low prices are popular in developing countries. Third, Chinese companies engaged in manufacturing and export of automobiles have established full-fledged marketing networks worldwide that can provide comprehensive and all-round services for foreign consumers.
We formulate the quality standards for exported second-hand vehicles mainly to address the difficulties in the international circulation of automobiles. These standards not only help to regulate the export of second-hand vehicles, but also ensure the quality of these vehicles so that foreign consumers are confident in our exported products. The quality standards will facilitate the sustainable development of China’s second-hand vehicle market, and contribute to our efforts in stabilizing foreign trade. In addition, it will increase the ownership of Chinese automotive products in overseas markets, enhance Chinese brands’ visibility, improve their international competitiveness, and contribute to the high-quality development of trade. Thank you.
AFP: What is MOFCOM’s comment on the recent sanctions imposed on Myanmar by the United States and other countries? Will these sanctions affect Chinese companies? China and Iran signed a 25-year strategic comprehensive partnership agreement. It is reported that China agreed to invest USD 400 billion within 25 years. Can MOFCOM verify this figure?
Regarding your first question, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs already responded to the issues related to China-Myanmar relations. I have no further information to share with you at the moment.
Regarding your second question on the trade and economic cooperation between China and Iran, I already made a response at the previous regular press conference. Any updated information will be published in a timely manner. Thank you.
Shenzhen TV: Shipping at the Suez Canal was resumed on March 29 after the container ship Ever Given that had been wedged across the Suez Canal was refloated. The Chairman of the Suez Canal Authority said previously that 422 ships had been waiting to go through the Suez Canal and the backlog of these ships might be cleared in 3 and a half days. Will this affect China’s foreign trade activities?
The Suez Canal is a crucial route of freight transport between China and Europe. We have been watching closely on the developments of the blockage and contacted relevant business associations and companies for detailed information.
From the feedback we have received, the Suez Canal blockage has affected some of our companies’ delivery business. Fluctuations have been seen in the shipping prices of some routes. In general, however, the blockage has abrupt, temporary and partial impacts on China’s foreign trade. So far, traffic at the Suez Canal has resumed and the shipping routes between China and Europe and other regions have gradually returned to normal. We will keep a close follow-up of the incident.
To safeguard global trade by logistics services, we will work with relevant departments to promote international cooperation on logistics. China will, together with other countries, facilitate cross-border logistics connectivity and ensure the security and stability of global industrial and supply chains. Thank you.
If there’s no further question, that concludes today’s press conference. Thank you all.
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