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Regular Press Conference of the Ministry of Commerce (September 24, 2020)

Gao Feng: Dear friends from the press,
Good afternoon, welcome to MOFCOM’s regular press conference. First of all, I have one announcement to make on the 2020 Good-Faith Business Operation Campaign Month.
Recently, 19 departments including MOFCOM, the Publicity Department of the CPC Central Committee, the Cyber Space Administration of China and the NDRC jointly issued the Notice on Launching the 2020 Good-Faith Business Operation Campaign Month to mount the event nationwide. The campaign month will be kicked off in Shanghai on September 27.
This year marks the 16th straight year of the organization of the Good-Faith Business Operation Campaign Month. The theme this year is good-faith operation and services. During the campaign month, relevant departments will organize a dozen events on the themes of “institutionalizing good faith”, “promoting the social atmosphere of trustworthiness”, “jointly building a trustworthy quality system for a satisfactory consumption environment”, “credit-worthy transport”, “good-faith business operation to boost cultural and tourist consumption”, “building a safe, trustworthy import and export business climate”, “tax payment in good faith in accordance with law”, “certification by your side”, “good-faith business operation for stability and regulations-compliant use of foreign exchange for development”, “winning the future with good faith”, “conference on developing trustworthiness among Chinese enterprises” and “joint action for a warmer consumption environment”. Different localities will also organize campaign events in various forms to encourage local chambers of commerce and trade associations, enterprises and consumers to coordinate and jointly foster a trustworthy consumption environment, business climate and society.

With no further information to announce, I’m ready to take your questions. The floor is open.

Phoenix TV: ByteDance announced that it had submitted an application for licensing to the Beijing Municipal Commerce Bureau in accordance with the Regulations of the People's Republic of China on the Administration of Import and Export of Technologies and the Catalogue of Technologies Prohibited and Restricted from Export. It is waiting for the bureau’s decision on accepting the application. Could MOFCOM confirm this? Will the application be approved?

Gao Feng: As far as we are concerned, the Beijing Municipal Commerce Bureau has received the application for a technology export license submitted by ByteDance. It will handle the application in accordance with relevant procedures, laws and regulations. Thank you.

Economic Daily: It is reported that the 30th session of the China-New Zealand joint economic and trade committee was held yesterday. What outcomes were achieved during this session?

Gao Feng: Since China and New Zealand established diplomatic ties in 1972, trade and economic relations between the two countries have seen steady, sound development and witnessed many “firsts” in China’s relations with developed Western countries, including the fact that New Zealand was the first developed Western country to officially recognize China's full-fledged market economy status and to conclude a bilateral free trade agreement with China. In recent years, China-New Zealand trade and economic cooperation has continued its sound development momentum. China has been New Zealand's largest trading partner in goods, largest export market, largest source of international students and second largest source of tourists for many years in a row. New Zealand is China’s largest source of imported milk powder, logs, lamb and mutton. According to Chinese statistics, in 2019, bilateral trade in goods reached US$18.29 billion, up 8.5% year-on-year, hitting a record high; trade in services reached US$4.02 billion. From January to August this year, under the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, bilateral trade in goods stood at US$11.86 billion, down 4.4 percent year-on-year, but bilateral trade in agricultural produce remained a star performer, with China's imports of milk powder from New Zealand up 8.6% and lamb and mutton up 10.7% in the first eight months of this year. China is one of New Zealand's fastest growing sources of foreign investment, with two-way investment totaling over US$8 billion.

As the first trade and economic cooperation mechanism between China and New Zealand, the Joint Committee of Trade and Economy is an important platform for cementing the bilateral economic and trade ties, deepening practical cooperation and resolving each other’s concerns. The 30th China-New Zealand Joint Committee of Trade and Economy was held via video conference on September 23, co-chaired by Wang Shouwen, China’s Vice Minister of Commerce and Deputy China International Trade Representative and Mark Sinclair, Acting Deputy Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of New Zealand.
As COVID-19 continues to sweep across the world, both China and New Zealand are facing arduous tasks of fighting the epidemic, stabilizing the economy and protecting people's livelihoods. The convening of this Joint Committee of Trade and Economy fully reflects the great importance the two governments attach to the bilateral economic and trade relations, demonstrates the good intentions of both sides to expand mutually beneficial economic and trade cooperation, and sends a positive signal of unity and cooperation to overcome the current difficulties.
At the Joint Committee of Trade and Economy, the two sides exchanged views and reached consensus on deepening bilateral cooperation, jointly tackling the epidemic, strengthening multilateral and regional cooperation and other economic and trade issues of common concern under the current circumstances. The meeting identified priorities of cooperation for the next stage, charted the course for future commercial relationship and further enriched the China-New Zealand comprehensive strategic partnership on the trade and economic front.
The two sides agreed that the bilateral commercial cooperation faces important opportunities for development, and that expanding bilateral practical cooperation is in the common interest of both countries. The two sides will continue to promote cooperation within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, advance the process of upgrading FTAs, maintain open trade and smooth supply chains, create a favorable investment climate, deepen cooperation in key areas such as infrastructure, agriculture and tourism, and tap the potential of cooperation in areas such as climate change, circular economy and environmental technology. China and New Zealand should work together on new growth areas for cooperation including trade in services and digital economy, and maintain communication on COVID-19 drug and vaccine research and development. The two sides agreed to jointly uphold multilateralism and free trade and support the multilateral trading system with the WTO at its core. Thank you!

Lianhe Zaobao: After the introduction of the Regulations on Unreliable Entity List, is there any consideration of further actions at this stage, such as listing some companies?

Gao Feng: Regarding the implementation of the Regulations on Unreliable Entity List, there is no pre-determined timetable or list of enterprises for the UEL. Thank you!

Global Times: The Ministry of Commerce announced last Saturday the Regulations on UEL, which will eye foreign companies that interrupt normal transactions with Chinese companies or use discriminatory measures. Which enterprises will be put on the list?

Gao Feng: The UEL regulation does not target specific countries or specific enterprises. Whether an enterprise will be included in the list depends on its own actions. There is no predetermined list of enterprises. The working mechanism will carry out relevant work in strict accordance with the Regulation in a serious and prudent manner.

I would like to emphasize that the Chinese government's position on deepening reform, widening opening up and protecting the legitimate rights and interests of various market entities remains unchanged. For honest and law-abiding foreign entities there is no need for concern. Thank you!

MNI: Does China believe that countermeasures, including the unreliable entity list, will affect foreign investment in China or investors’ confidence in China’s effort to open up its market?

Gao Feng: China has stressed many times that its fundamental state policy of reform and opening-up will not change, and its resolve to and confidence in opening-up will not change.

From January to August this year, actual foreign direct investment absorbed by China grew by 2.6% year-on-year, and the growth rate in August alone was 18.7%. This speaks to foreign investor’s investment in China and China’s confidence in firmly opening up its market.

The Chinese government will consistently foster a world-class, market-oriented business environment governed by a sound legal framework, enhance the protection of the lawful rights and interests of all market entities, and provide better services for foreign investors, so that they can share opportunities of development with China. Thank you.

China Business News: According to Rhodium Group’s recent report on China-US two-way investment in 1H 2020, combined direct and venture capital investment between the two countries dropped to a nine-year low. But the same report also points out that in certain sectors, US businesses are still committed to their development on the Chinese market. What’s your view?

Gao Feng: We have noticed the reports you mentioned. Although the data quoted in the report is somewhat different from Chinese statistics, some trends it reflects are still worth noting.

First, China remains an ideal investment destination for global investors, including those from the US. The world economy is facing huge downward pressure, and global cross-border investment has suffered greatly. That being the case, the investment flows going in and out of China remain stable in general. A recent survey from the US-China Business Council shows that 83% of the companies surveyed count China as one of the top priorities for their global strategy. This demonstrates foreign investors’ confidence in the Chinese market. China will be committed to expanding opening-up and optimizing the business environment to share China’s development opportunities with investors from around the world.

Second, by politicizing normal economic and trade cooperation and abusing the concept of national security, the US has rendered investors from other countries less confident in the US’s investment environment. Such actions disrupt normal business operation, damage international economic and trade order, and will harm both the US itself and others. It is hoped that the US could create a fair, stable, and predictable business environment for enterprises. Thank you.

Gao Feng: This is the end of today’s press conference. Thank you.

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