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Regular Press Conference of the Ministry of Commerce (December 28, 2017)

Dear friends from the press,

Good morning, welcome to the regular press conference of the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM). First of all, I have two pieces of information to release.

I. About the Guide for Countries and Regions on Overseas Investment and Cooperation of the 2017

Today, MOFCOM will officially issue the Guide for Countries and Regions on Overseas Investment and Cooperation of the 2017 edition. The Guide has been updated annually since 2009 and is now the ninth edition. This is an important public service product proactively provided for the society by MOFCOM as a state administration of foreign investment. It has comprehensively introduced the target investment and cooperation countries and regions’ basic information, economical situation, policies and regulations, risks and etc. It will serve as an “encyclopaedia” for domestic enterprises to “go out” normatively and steadily and prevent and resolve foreign investment risks.

The Guide 2017 covers 172 principal markets of Chinese enterprises’ ODI, overseas contracted projects and overseas labor service cooperation. It systematically introduces the laws and regulations related to investment cooperation in various countries and regions, accurately reflects the economic situation and investment environment of various countries and regions, and objectively shows the business opportunities and operational risks in various countries and regions. It is worth noting that the Guide, guided by the spirits of the 19th CPC National Congress and especially centering on implementing the State Council’s Guideline on Promoting International Capacity and Equipment Manufacturing Cooperation, systematically reviews the development plans, development situation and cooperation needs of the key industries in various countries and regions. It newly adds increased customs facilitation, investment regulation in the financial sector and infrastructure cooperation modes. Its content is richer and more readable, which can meet the multi-level demand of China's foreign investment entities and play an active role in timely grasping the policies and environmental changes of the target investment and cooperation countries and region, scientifically making decisions on overseas investment and cooperation and effectively preventing risks for the Chinese enterprises.

MOFCOM’s official Wechat account will add the search function for the Guide. You can type the name of a certain country in the official account to find its relevant information in the Guide.

II. About the Report on Development of China’s Outward Investment and Economic Cooperation in 2017

Today, MOFCOM will officially release the Report on Development of China’s Outward Investment and Economic Cooperation in 2017.

Themed on seeking improvement in stability, the Report comprehensively concludes the development characteristics and experience of China’s outward investment and cooperation in 2016, systematically introduces the related policy measures, looked forward to the future development opportunities, selects the outward investment situations, achievements and related local policy measures of some provinces and regions and analyzed typical practice cases of enterprises and puts forward relevant suggestions.

The Report has seven chapters, including development pattern, policy measures, regional cooperation, industry development, local development, business practice and expert perspective.

MOFCOM has started to compile the Report since 2010 and it has become an important part of the outward investment cooperation service system. It is hoped that the Report 2017 will provide reference for business circles, academic circles, research institutions and intermediary organizations to better launch outward investment and cooperation in their own sectors.

That’s all the information I’d like to share with you. Now I’d like to answer your questions.

Global Times: Reuters said on December 25th that China saw growth in import and export in November, doing way better than expected. It also predicted that Chinese export would maintain the strong momentum in December and whole-year foreign trade will make a positive contribution to GDP growth. What are MOFCOM’s comments and expectations for foreign trade next year?

Gao Feng: In the first eleven months, China’s import and export reached 25.14 trillion yuan, up by 15.6% year-on-year, or 3.7032 trillion dollars with a year-on-year growth of 12%. If everything goes on well, it is estimated that out import and export growing at this rate will exceed four trillion dollars again this year. It is fair to say that Chinese foreign trade has maintained a strong momentum, which is a distinct driving force for economic growth.

Over the past few years, we have pressed ahead with supply-side structural reform in foreign trade, thus enhancing foreign trade companies’ efficiency in labor, capital, resources and environment. Medium to high-end and smart products have increased. Overall speaking, China’s import and export are shifting focus from high speed to high quality. Potential of foreign trade is gradually unleashed.

As for trade growth in the coming year, a general view is that global economy will continue to grow. According to the IMF, the world economy will grow by 3.7% next year, which is 0.1 percentage point higher than this year’s estimate. The international trade in goods and services by 4%, better than the average growth of 3.4% in the past five years (2013-2017) and the global economic growth as well. That being said, there remain uncertainties and destabilizing factors in international trade. In China, businesses are building up their own drivers. We will continue to encourage enterprises to make innovations, give scientific and technological advances a larger role to play in trade, and lift total factors productivity so as to ensure high quality of trade growth.

We think China’s foreign trade will keep growing steadily next year. Thank you.

CPR: The Guidance for Countries (Regions) Outbound Investment Cooperation 2017 was released today. When will the outbound investment law be promulgated? Could you introduce latest developments in this regard? Thank you.

Gao Feng: With respect to legislation in outbound investment, we have conducted a series of research into the legal frameworks on outward investment in recent years and the findings are valuable for our future work. Building on these achievements and guided by the 19th CPC National Congress spirit and requirements by the Central Economic Work Conference, we and other relevant ministries are working on the formulation of the Regulation on Outbound Investment in a steady and orderly fashion. We will strive to publish the Regulation at an early date.

We hope to provide guidance and support for enterprises with clear strategies and professional ethics to seize opportunities abroad and help them prevent and address risks, require them to obey laws and regulations of host countries and actively take on their corporate social responsibility through a well-established legal framework for outbound investment. In doing so, Chinese enterprises can secure sustainable and steady development in the process of internationalization. Thank you.

Phoenix Satellite TV: The new year is coming with a fresh policy outlook. Will the FTZ policy change next year? Is there a timetable for the creation of the much-followed Shanghai Free Trade Port? When will it be completed?

Gao Feng: Regarding the FTZ reform next year, following the general deployment of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, we will continue to advance the pilot FTZ reform, continuously shorten the negative list for foreign investment, step up the stress test, and keep improving the quality of FTZ development to leverage its role as pioneer and test-bed, with more, better targeted and systematic reform experience to be introduced at appropriate times for nationwide roll-out.

As for the Free Trade Port, we will abide by the general deployment of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council to advance the related work in a sure and orderly manner. Thank you.

The Economic Observer: Concerning the just concluded National Commerce Work Conference, what are MOFCOM’s top priorities for 2018? What breakthroughs can be expected in foreign trade and foreign investment? Thank you.

Gao Feng: The just concluded National Commerce Work Conference, while taking stock of China’s commerce work in the past five years, in particular 2017, set out new requirements and new targets for commerce work in the new era and also planned for 2018 and years to come.

In 2018 we will follow the general deployment of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, keep to the main theme of progress amidst stability and continue to execute our work across the fronts. On domestic trade and circulation, we’ll focus on consumption upgrade, circulation efficiency and the credibility system. For the open economy, we’ll vigorously pursue core competitiveness in import and export, FDI and ODI, among others, to form a new landscape of all-dimensional open-up.

One top priority in the commerce work of next year is to host a successful first China International Import Expo. The CIIE, connecting the domestic and international markets, can better coordinate the two markets and two sets of resources and cannot only help enrich China’s consumption market and lower consumption costs, but also drive China’s reform and opening up and the reform in quality, efficiency, and dynamics of Chinese business.

China is at a key stage of the transformation of its development model. We will abide by the new development concepts and the requirements for quality development and work with related departments and localities on solid preparations for the Expo so that the inaugural session will be a success and play a positive and enabling role in the national economy’s transition to quality growth.

As for foreign trade in 2018, we will continue to deepen the supply-side structural reform in foreign trade, pursue innovation-driven growth, foster new dynamics and optimize international market deployment, domestic regional layout, commodity mix, operators and trade patterns, step up the development of demonstration bases for foreign trade transformation and upgrade, trade platforms and international marketing networks and promote export while focusing on export quality and value added. At the same time, we will carry out a robust import policy to balance China’s trade, further enhance trade facilitation, and bring about China’s shift from a big trading nation to a strong trading nation. On FDI, we will follow the overall deployment of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, continue to press ahead with the FTZ pilot, push for substantial reductions in market access restrictions, stabilize expectations for foreign investment and operation, and encourage innovation in development zones nationwide to build main grounds for FDI in the new era. Meanwhile, we will optimize the layout of regional open-up, speed up the opening of the western region, and boost the FDI scale and quality in Central and Western China and the northeastern old industrial bases. Thank you.

CRI: On December 21, the EU initiated a proceeding concerning imports of electric bicycles originating in China, alleging that the exporters benefitted from excessive subsidies granted by the government. What is the comment of MOFCOM on this? Thank you.

Gao Feng: We regret to note that, despite China’s objections, the European Commission publicized the notice of initiation of an anti-subsidy proceeding concerning imports of electric bicycles originating in China on December 21. After it launched an anti-dumping proceeding concerning imports of electric bicycles originating in China this October, the European Commission once again initiates trade remedy investigations against the same product from China within two months. China is highly concerned about that.

As a matter of fact, before the initiation of this anti-subsidy proceeding, we have already made solemn representations to the European Commission over the groundless accusation of the so-called subsidies brought by EU businesses and clearly specified the serious flaws in their relevant applications. The electric bicycle industry in China is completely market-based and achieves full competition. The so-called “government subsidies” alleged by EU businesses is merely a misread of relevant Chinese policies and a distortion of WTO rules, which lacks factual evidence and cannot be justified.

We question whether the standard of initiating proceedings in the EU is consistent with the Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures of the WTO. We urge the EU to rigorously abide by relevant WTO rules and conduct objective and impartial investigations to avoid over-protection for relevant sectors. In addition, we hope that the EU will take a constructive approach and encourage EU electric bicycle businesses to cooperate with their Chinese counterparts so as to transform competition into win-win outcomes and achieve common development for businesses in China and the EU. China will follow the case closely and take necessary measures accordingly to resolutely defend China’s rightful and legitimate interests. Thank you.

Due to time limits, the last question, please.

Financial Program Center, BTV: The Spring Festival is around the corner. This is the time when the home services sector will again suffer from a labor shortage. Does MOFCOM have relevant policies to provide a long-term solution to the issue? Thank you.

Gao Feng: The home services concern a large number of households. As you mentioned, there is indeed a problem of insufficient supply in the home services market during the Spring Festival. We are making efforts in the following areas:

First, we will establish a long-term mechanism to ensure the supply of home services. We will encourage a long-term and stable mechanism matching cities with a huge demand for home services and regions rich in relevant resources in order to safeguard urban supply, particularly during the holidays. For example, MOFCOM has launched a pilot program of alleviating poverty through home services this year, involving more than 100 cities and 10,000 villages. Poverty-stricken counties with rich home service resources and central cities with a large demand for such services are encouraged to explore effective ways to alleviate poverty through home services and address the growingly serious imbalance between supply and demand in the home services sector.

Second, we will innovate supply models. We are pushing forward the development of “internet plus home services”. By striving for an in-depth integration of online transactions and offline services and cross-regional allocation of home service resources, we hope to effectively enhance market efficiency for home services.

Third, we will improve the capabilities to supply. We are creating a number of trustworthy home service providers offering standard services and serving as models and leaders. We will also build a pool for home support workers and expand supply for home services.

Fourth, we will offer better services. Centered on offering credible home services, we will establish a national database for trustworthy home service providers and encourage companies to establish credit files for home support workers. We will establish model companies offering credible home services and improve the system of rewards, penalties and dispute settlement to better regulate the home services sector.

As for the potential labor shortage that may occur during the 2018 Spring Festival mentioned by you, we are actively working with the relevant localities to study measures ensuring supplies during the Spring Festival, including keeping the stock stable and expanding supplies. Large cities, such as Beijing and Shanghai, have basically formed an effective safeguard mechanism. Beijing, for example, has launched a campaign to ensure the supply of home services during the Spring Festival for five years in a row. Home service providers that are well-regulated or equipped with their own chain stores and brands are encouraged to invite their home support workers in Beijing to stay during the Spring Festival and continue to offer services. At the same time, we will let non-local training bases fully play their roles and encourage non-local home support workers to come to Beijing to help ensure the supply as well.

We will work with the relevant localities and take multiple measures to ease the imbalance of supply and demand in home services market during the Spring Festival. Thank you.

Gao Feng: Due to time limit, today’s press conference will conclude soon. I would like to add one brief comment. This is the last press conference of MOFCOM in 2017. On behalf of the information office of MOFCOM, I would like to thank you for your care, help and support for press-related work of MOFCOM this year and wish you good health and every success in the New Year. Thank you.

(All information published on this website is authentic in Chinese. English is provided for reference only.)