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MOFCOM Regular Press Conference (September 2, 2021)

Gao Feng: Friends from the media, good afternoon. Welcome to MOFCOM’s regular press conference. Today I am glad to introduce my new colleague, Madam Shu Jueting, a new spokesperson of the Ministry of Commerce.

Madam Shu Jueting is Deputy Director-General of the Finance Department of the Ministry of Commerce, and also serves as a spokesperson of the Ministry of Commerce. She has long been engaged in the analysis and research of the macro commercial environment, and has rich commerce experience and good communication skills. I believe she will soon get familiar and get along well with you, and you will enjoy sound cooperation. I also believe that you will support the work of Deputy Director-General Shu Jueting just like you have supported me and the former spokespersons of the Ministry of Commerce.

I will now give the floor to Deputy Director-General Shu Jueting, who will host today’s press conference.

Shu Jueting: Friends from the media, good afternoon! I would like to thank Deputy Director-General Gao Feng for introducing me to everyone. I am very happy and honored to meet you for the first time on this podium today. As the new spokesperson of the Ministry of Commerce, I am ready to learn from my predecessors, communicate effectively with friends from the media, introduce commerce policies and concepts in a timely and accurate manner, and help you better understand commerce work and stories. I also look forward to your understanding and support of my work in the future. Thank you all!

First of all, I have an announcement to make.

Let me begin by briefing you on the development of China’s service trade in the first seven months this year.

From January to July this year, China's service trade maintained a sound growth. The total import and export of services was RMB2,809.36 billion (RMB, same below), a year-on-year increase of 7.3%. In breakdown, the service export was RMB1,337.31 billion, an increase of 23.2%; the import reached RMB1,472.06 billion, down 4%. The service export increased by 27.2 percentage points more than import, driving the service trade deficit down 70% to RMB134.75 billion, with a year-on-year decrease of RMB314.02 billion. Compared with the same period in 2019, the import and export of services fell by 9%, with an average decrease of 4.6% in two years. In breakdown, exports increased by 21.5%, with a two-year average increase of 10.2%; imports decreased by 25.9%, with a two-year average decrease of 13.9%. The following features can be observed:

Import and export of services increased steadily in July. In July, China's service import and export totaled RMB431.92 billion, up 10.1% year-on-year and down 1.7% month-on-month. Among them, the export was RMB208.82 billion, up 21.1% year-on-year, down 3.6% month-on-month, and the export of transportation services increased by 107.5%. Imports reached RMB223.11 billion, up 1.6% year-on-year and 0.2% month-on-month.

Trade in knowledge-intensive services increased. From January to July, the import and export of knowledge-intensive services in China reached RMB1,286.82 billion, an increase of 11.8%, accounting for 45.8% of the total import and export of services, an increase of 1.8 percentage points. Among them, the export of knowledge-intensive services was RMB704.47 billion, an increase of 15.4%, accounting for 52.7% of the total export of services. The faster growing areas were personal, cultural and recreational services, intellectual property royalties, and telecommunications, computer and information services, up 28.3%, 23.9% and 20.8% respectively. The import of knowledge-intensive services was RMB582.35 billion, an increase of 7.6%, accounting for 39.6% of the total service import. The areas where imports grew rapidly were financial services and intellectual property royalties, increasing by 18.9% and 14.3% respectively.

Travel imports and exports continued to decline. At present, countries continue to take strict measures to restrict the cross-border movement of people, and the impact of the epidemic on the import and export of travel services continues. From January to July, China's import and export of travel services reached RMB429.98 billion, down by 32.7%, of which exports fell by 41.6% and imports by 31.6%. Excluding travel services, China's import and export of other services increased by 20.2% from January to July, of which exports increased by 28% and imports increased by 12%. Compared with the same period in 2019, the import and export of other services increased by 23%, while exports increased by 33.5% and imports by 12.4% respectively.

That’s all for the briefing. I’m ready to take your questions. The floor is open.

Phoenix Satellite TV: The 2021 China International Fair for Trade in Services is around the corner. We also saw yesterday the Ministry of Commerce announced President Xi Jinping will deliver a speech at the Global Trade in Services Summit via video. How are the preparations going for this year’s CIFTIS?

Shu Jueting: The 2021 China International Fair for Trade in Services will be held in Beijing from September 2nd to 7th. The Global Trade in Services Summit, at which President Xi Jinping will deliver a video speech, will take place on September 2nd. Five heads of state, three heads of major international organization and 17 ministerial-level guests from outside China will participate in the Summit. This year’s CIFTIS has an exhibition area of 130,000 square meters, and attracts over 12,000 exhibitors from 153 countries and regions, an increase of 18%, 52% and 5 countries over the previous one respectively. Exhibitors from the Fortune Global 500 and leading enterprises make up 21% of the total and international participants accounted for 18%, much higher than the previous event. In terms of activities, in addition to the Global Services Trade Summit, five summit forums, 193 meetings and promotion and negotiation activities as well as eight side events and other related supporting activities will be held. At present, all the preparatory work for the CIFTIS is in place. We will do our utmost to make this year’s event wonderful and productive. Thank you.

CMG: It is reported that the BRICS Economic and Trade Ministers’ Meeting will be held in a couple of days. What are China’s considerations and the expectations for this meeting?

Shu Jueting: The 11th BRICS Economic and Trade Ministers’ Meeting will be held by video on September 3rd. Chinese Minister of Commerce Wang Wentao will attend the meeting in Beijing.

Ministers will exchange views on issues such as the response to COVID-19, support for the multilateral trading system and practical economic and trade cooperation among BRICS countries, preparing commercial outcomes for the 13th BRICS Summit. Thank you.

The Cover: A recently-issued notice by the Ministry of Commerce and five other ministries required efforts to be made to help market players in such areas as brick-and-mortar retail, accommodation and catering, foreign investment and foreign trade to overcome their difficulties and grow. What problems facing the enterprises will be targeted? How will the Ministry of Commerce implement the measures to meet the needs of enterprises for continued operation?

Shu Jueting: At present, affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, market players in sectors including brick-and-mortar retail, accommodation and catering, foreign investment and foreign trade are facing multiple challenges. For example, many stores, hotels and restaurants have seen a sharp drop in business volume and difficulty in capital turnover; foreign-related enterprises are struggling with executing orders due to exchange rates, transportation and other factors. In accordance with the decision and plan by the Central Committee of the CPC and the State Council, the Ministry of Commerce, in close collaboration with the Ministry of Finance, the People’s Bank of China, the State Taxation Administration, the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, and the State Administration of Foreign Exchange, issued a notice to help enterprises in relevant industries to effectively cope with the impact of the epidemic and promote the recovery and high-quality development by strengthening inclusive financial services, leveraging the role special funds in guiding development, streamlining the process of export tax rebates and other targeted fiscal and financial support measures.

Going forward, we will work with relevant ministries to implement these measures expeditiously and effectively to enhance enterprises’ sense of fulfillment. We will focus on the following four areas. Firstly, we will raise the awareness of the policies. We will help all localities and agencies have an accurate understanding of the spirit of the notice and relevant requirements, make the policy widely known, answer questions and make clarifications on credit and credit insurance, exchange rate hedging, special funds, tax reduction, fees cut, export tax rebates, etc., and respond to the demands of enterprises in a timely manner. Secondly, we will encourage local governments to put in place supporting measures. Given that the situation and difficulties faced by each locality are not all the same, we support local governments in drafting targeted support measures in increasing guarantee and credit insurance, sharing information and data, guiding financial funds, cutting fees and making concessions, among others, based on local features and the actual conditions of enterprises. Thirdly, we will create synergy among governments, banks and enterprises. In order to address the financing difficulties and other issues commonly reported by enterprises, we will guide financial institutions to continue to innovate products and services, and further scale up support for the three types of market players, while encouraging local governments and financial institutions to strengthen collaboration and connectivity so as to foster synergy among governments, banks and enterprises and provide targeted support for businesses in need. Fourthly, we will ensure policy connectivity with efforts to follow closely the development of the situation and continue to improve follow-up policies so as to reinforce the basis for economic recovery and growth. Thank you.

International Business Daily: In recent years, brand consumption has become an important driver for consumption. We’ve noted that the time-honored brands have become a bright spot in consumption. What will the Ministry of Commerce do to further promote brand consumption?

Shu Jueting: In recent years, brand consumption has gradually become a trend for household spending with a large number of “first stores” and flagship stores established in China. In the first half of 2021, Beijing, Shanghai and some other places have introduced over 1,200 of them, a significant growth year on year. As representatives of the national brands, China Time-honored Brands get increasingly favored by consumers. According to the MOFCOM, in 2020, though hit by the pandemic, 75% of China Time-honored Brands still recorded profits; during this year's Dragon Boat Festival, their sales revenue increased by 21.7% year on year.

Going forward, the MOFCOM will focus on "both the old and new", and take multiple measures to promote brand consumption. On the one hand, we aim to grow China Time-honored Brands. Policy measures are improved to encourage inheritance and innovation, stimulating their innovative vitality. More fashionable products and services are introduced to meet consumer demands. "Time-honored Brands carnival" are to be promoted with guidance for locals and on e-commerce platforms to grasp the "Golden September & Silver October", focusing on the Mid-Autumn Festival, the National Day holiday to launch a series of special promotions to benefit consumers. On the other hand, we also aim to grow new brands. Brands with local characteristics are promoted through production and marketing matchmaking activities; pedestrian streets are to be upgraded to a higher level, building neighborhoods and shopping areas with unique features; better play the role of exhibition platforms like China International Import Expo, China International Consumer Products Expo, and the China International Fair for Trade in Services, international quality brands are introduced to keep improving the supply quality of brand goods and services to better meet consumer demands in terms of quality, diversification, and personalization. Thank you.

Shenzhen TV: It is reported that the European Parliament's International Trade Committee discussed draft regulations on international procurement instrument (IPI) on September 1. We also noticed that some members of the European Parliament said that China may be excluded from EU’s public procurement contracts. What’s MOFCOM’s comment on that?

Shu Jueting: We are closely monitoring its progress. I hope that the EU will uphold the principle of fair and open markets and avoid protectionism and discriminatory practices. Thank you.

CNR: We know that this year marks the 8th anniversary of the “Belt and Road” initiative. Over the past eight years, the economic and trade relations between China and the BRI countries have grown increasingly close, especially when the pandemic is spreading. Could you introduce the crucial changes on that respect? As a new mode of trade, how does the Silk Road e-commerce programs progress?

Shu Jueting: In 2013, President Xi Jinping proposed the joint construction of the “Belt and Road” initiative, which aims to carry forward the Silk Road spirits, jointly build an open cooperation platform, and provide new impetus for joint cooperation and development. Over the past eight years, the “Belt and Road” economic and trade cooperation has come a long way with rich fruits --trade with fewer hurdles, broader investment cooperation, more cooperation projects fulfilled, as well as sound mechanisms and platforms. Since the outbreak of the Covid-19, the BRI countries have joined hands to overcome the difficulties and jointly promoted the steady progress of economic and trade cooperation, contributing to anti-pandemic cooperation and economic recovery.

Over the past eight years, upholding the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, bilateral investment between China and other BRI countries has developed vigorously, and trilateral and multilateral cooperation are on a fast track. From 2013 to 2020, China’s cumulative direct investment in BRI countries hit 136 billion U.S. dollars, and 27,000 enterprises from BRI countries have made their presence in China with a cumulative actual investment of about 60 billion U.S. dollars.

Over the past eight years, we have upheld open, green and clean cooperation. From 2013 to 2020, China’s total trade in goods with countries along the Belt and Road exceeded US$9.2 trillion. Our trade volume has maintained expansion; annual trade volume climbed from US$1 trillion to US$1.4 trillion, and the share of other Belt and Road countries in China’s foreign trade increased by 4.1 percentage points. A greater variety of products from these countries has become popular among Chinese customers. New trade forms and models has grown at a faster pace, characterized by cross-border e-commerce, market procurement trade and overseas warehouses. Major trade corridors have played a growingly significant role, with China-Europe Railway Express and the New International Land-Sea Corridor connecting more and more countries and regions. Trade liberalization and facilitation has constantly improved; by far, China has signed seven free-trade agreements with 13 Belt and Road countries. Trade platforms have been further diversified, and the role of major exhibitions including the CIIE, Canton Fair, CIFTIS, and Hainan Expo have become ever more prominent.

Over the past eight years, we have been committed to high-standard and sustainable cooperation targets that benefit people’s lives. China and countries along the Belt and Road have pushed forward green projects and projects to improve people’s wellbeing. In overseas economic and trade cooperation zones in these countries, Chinese enterprises have paid more than US$4.4 billion in tax and created 330,000 jobs.

As for Silk Road e-commerce, China has established bilateral e-commerce cooperation mechanism with 22 countries, for cooperation in policy exchange, planning coordination, industry promotion, subnational cooperation, capacity building and other topics across various areas at multiple levels, to foster a favorable environment for e-commerce in Belt and Road countries. Since last year, China and its Silk Road e-commerce partners have been jointly responding to the challenges posed by Covid-19, by seeking new ways and exploring new areas of cooperation such as Silk Road e-commerce cloud lectures and the popular Silk Road country product section of the “Brand and Quality Online Shopping Festival”, deepening our cooperation with solid progress. Meanwhile, China has been promoting an open, transparent and mutually beneficial system of e-commerce rules to create a sound environment for shared e-commerce development. All this has made Silk Road e-commerce a new highlight in expanding trade and economic cooperation and a new driver for Belt and Road cooperation.

China stands ready to work with relevant countries to uphold openness and inclusiveness, advance connectivity and maintain the significant role of Belt and Road cooperation in addressing global crises and achieving long-term development.

Thank you.

Xinhua News Agency: Could you please talk about the new progress in building 15-minute urban community service circles? Which areas will be the future focus?

Shu Jueting: Recently, MOFCOM and other 11 authorities jointly published the Opinions on Advancing 15-Minute Urban Community Service Circles and has started pilot projects. After expert evaluation, 30 localities were selected as pilots. These documents have been released online for public comments.

In the next step, MOFCOM will work with relevant authorities to identify pilot areas based on public comments and push for local implementation while enhancing inter-departmental coordination and policy support. We will instruct local governments in optimizing the distribution of outlets, bolstering weak facilities, enriching business forms, growing commercial entities and providing guidance for rules-abiding business operations. We will promote brand-building and chain-oriented development of convenience stores, and standardized upgrading of wet markets. With the aim of benefitting the people, we will work to complete business forms that satisfy people’s basic livelihood needs, such as meals, daily necessities and household services, while improving business forms that meets quality demands, including recreation, healthcare and other multi-tiered, custom-tailored products and services. In the meantime, we will summarize and share mature experience and practices when appropriate, and build 1,000 well-located, full-fledged urban community service circles that provide smart, convenient, well-regulated and high-quality services in 100 cities during the 14th Five-Year Plan period, so as to foster harmony between the businesses and residents and contribute to basic livelihood and consumption upgrading. Thank you.

China Securities Journal: MOFCOM previously revealed that the 14th five-year plan for e-commerce will be released in the second half of the year. What is the current progress? When will it to come out?

Shu Jueting: The 14th Five-Year Plan for E-Commerce Development is undergoing internal procedures and will be released soon. After that, MOFCOM will work with relevant departments to carry out multi-channel publicity campaigns and guide local governments in implementing the plan. Thank you.

The Paper: MOFCOM recently released the Guidelines on Promoting Standardization of Business under the 14th Five-Year Plan with focus on seven key areas. What are MOFCOM’s considerations? The Guidelines encourages comprehensive pilot zones of cross-border e-commerce to carry out studies on formulating cross-border e-commerce standards. What are the further plans?

Shu Jueting: According to the deployment of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, MOFCOM recently released the Guidelines on Promoting Standardization of Business under the 14th Five-Year Plan. This Guidelines comes along with concrete plans for the standardization in seven key business areas during the period of the 14th Five-Year Plan including the circulation of agricultural products based on three considerations:

First, improving the quality of goods and services in key areas concerning people’s livelihood through standardization. Agricultural products circulation and modern service industry are closely related to people’s well-being. The Guidelines proposes to accelerate the standardized construction of supporting facilities such as agricultural product markets, community convenience stores and residential services in these key areas. Through standardization, enterprises could provide products and services with higher qualities to consumers, who would then enjoy wider choices and reassuring shopping experiences, to better meet their aspirations for better lives.

Second, improving the efficiency of commercial circulation through standardization. Strengthening standardization is conducive to building a convenient, fast and safe circulation network, improving circulation efficiency, and helping the commercial circulation industry reduce cost and increase efficiency. At the same time, to unclog the domestic and international dual circulation system, the Guidelines singles out the domestic and foreign trade integration as one key area. It will support standardized international cooperation and exchanges and explore standardized connections between foreign and domestic markets to better serve the building of a new development paradigm.

Third, promoting innovative and standardized development of commercial circulation through standardization. By strengthening the construction of digital standards for commercial circulation, we could follow the rapid development of digital economy and leverage the leading role of standards to promote the innovative development of commercial circulation through digital transformation. In additional, by building whole-process big data management standards, we can advance the standardized development of new e-commerce business types and models.

On your second question, in order to lead the healthy development of cross-border e-commerce, since this year, we have led comprehensive cross-border e-commerce pilot zones to carry out the “special action for the construction of cross-border e-commerce rules and standards”. Pilot zones in Beijing, Zhejiang, Fujian, Guangdong, Sichuan, etc. actively participated in the drafting of national standards. At present, 41 national, industrial, local, group and enterprise standards for cross-border e-commerce have been issued, among which 11 are national standards. A preliminary standard system in favor of cross-border e-commerce development has taken shape. In the next step, we will continue to work on this. Thank you.

Nikkei: In August, Minister Wang said at the press conference that there will be a series of consumption promotion activities. Does MOFCOM have any specific arrangements?

Shu Jueting: In order to consolidate the momentum of consumption recovery, MOFCOM will carry out a series of consumption promotion activities on the premise of Covid-19 prevention and control. We will instruct local areas to take advantage of the peak consumption seasons such as the Mid Autumn Festival, National Day, New Year’s Day and Spring Festival to organize a series of normalized consumption promotion activities. In addition, special consumption promotion activities, such as brand commodity alignment, will be organized. We will also continue to work on the China Food Fair 2021, a consumption promotion activity in the catering industry and Time-Honored Brands Carnival. Thank you.

Yicai: You mentioned the rapid development of overseas warehousing, which is key to smooth international logistics. What are MOFCOM’s measures and ideas to help businesses develop overseas warehousing in the future?

Shu Jueting: As a key overseas link in cross-border e-commerce, China’s overseas warehouses now number over 1900, covering more than 13.50 million square meters and business across the word. Of these, over 90% are located in North America, Europe and Asia.

To help businesses develop new trade business types and models faster and promote overseas warehousing, we will work in the following areas. First, we will step up training of entities. Traditional trade companies, cross-border e-commerce and logistics enterprises will be encouraged to take part in the development of overseas warehouses. Financial institutions will be spurred to strengthen innovation on export credit insurance and other financial products. Second, we will promote digital development and encourage overseas warehousing companies to connect with online comprehensive service platforms of comprehensive demonstration zones for cross-border e-commerce and domestic and overseas e-commerce platforms, match supply and demand, and explore the development of overseas smart logistics platforms. Third, we will strengthen standardization. We will push for the the setting of national, industrial and group standards in overseas warehousing for its healthy and orderly development. Fourth, we will improve overseas warehousing networks. We will support accelerated business efforts to deploy warehouses in key overseas markets and improve global service networks, so that cross-border e-commerce companies can better serve global consumers. Thank you.

If there are no further questions, this concludes today’s press conference. Thank you.

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