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MOFCOM Regular Press Conference (December 2, 2021)

Shu Jueting: Friends from the press, good afternoon. Welcome to the MOFCOM regular press conference. I would like to make a briefing first.

Statistics of trade in services from January to October this year.

In the first ten months this year, China’s trade in services continued to maintain an upward trajectory. The total trade in services rose by 12.7% year-on-year to RMB4198.03 billion. In breakdown, service exports stood at RMB1,997.43 billion, up 29% and imports RMB2,200.6 billion, up 1.1%. The growth of service trade exports outpaced that of imports by 27.9 percentage points, driving the service trade deficit down by 67.6% to RMB203.17 billion, a decrease of RMB424.7 billion year-on-year. Compared with the same period in 2019, service imports and exports fell by 5.4%, a two-year average of 2.8%, with exports up 26.6%, a two-year average of 12.5%, and imports down 23.1%, a two-year average of 12.3%. China’s service imports and exports in October totaled RMB413.97 billion, up 24% year-on-year. The main features are as follows.

Trade in knowledge-intensive services accounted for a larger share. From January to October, China’s knowledge-intensive service imports and exports increased by 13.3% to RMB1856.6 billion yuan, accounting for 44.2% of the total service trade, an increase of 0.2 percentage points. Among them, exports amounted to RMB1006.04 billion, up 16.9%, accounting for 50.4% of the total exports of services. Exports of personal cultural and entertainment services, intellectual property royalties, and telecommunications, computer and information services registered faster growth with an increase of 33.6%, 29.1% and 21.7% respectively. Imports totaled RMB850.55 billion, up 9.3%, accounting for 38.7% of total service imports.

The import and export of traveling services continued to drop. The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the import and export of traveling services continued. From January to October, China’s import and export of traveling services dropped by 27.7% to RMB631.68 billion, among which exports decreased by 39.5% and imports by 26.1%. China’s trade in services, excluding traveling services, increased by 25% from January to October, with exports up by 33.7% and imports by 16.1%. Compared with the same period in 2019, trade in other services grew by 27.9%, including a 40.1% increase in exports and a 16% increase in imports.

That is all for the briefing. Now I’d like to take your questions. The floor is open.

The Cover: The Eighth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation was held this week. At the opening ceremony, President Xi Jinping made four proposals on China-Africa cooperation and introduced many practical cooperation measures. What are the specific considerations of MOFCOM for the implementation?

Shu Jueting: The Eighth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation was held on November 29-30 in Dakar, capital of Senegal. Despite the impact of COVID-19, China and Africa have overcome difficulties and hosted the conference as scheduled, with fruitful outcomes. At the opening ceremony, President Xi Jinping expounded on the spirit of China-Africa friendship and cooperation and made the four proposals promoting China-Africa development. He announced that our two sides jointly prepared the China-Africa Cooperation Vision 2035. Under the first three-year plan of the Vision, China will work closely with African countries to implement the nine programs toward a high-level China-Africa community with a shared future.

The China-Africa Cooperation Vision 2035 fully aligns the development strategies of China and Africa under new circumstances, identifies the general framework of China-Africa cooperation in the next 15 years and gives the prospect of China-Africa cooperation in all areas by 2035. Starting from this FOCAC Conference, China will propose three-year plans for the implementation of the Vision. As practical cooperation measures of each conference, the three-year plans are interconnected, with their respective priorities, fully representing the continuous and systematic measures.

The nine programs represent the first three-year plan of China and Africa for the implementation of the Vision, including programs in health care, poverty reduction and agriculture, trade promotion, investment, digital innovation, green development, capacity building, people-to-people exchanges and peace and security. The nine programs aim to support Africa in cultivating its internal driving forces, and upgrade China-Africa cooperation with higher quality. The relevant specific measures cover traditional areas of China-Africa cooperation while actively respond to Africa’s urgent needs in health care, epidemic response, livelihood and poverty reduction, trade and investment and other areas for resuming development. They will also expand China-Africa cooperation in digital economy, green and low-carbon development, vocational education and other emerging areas, focusing on high-quality development of China-Africa practical cooperation.

With the full implementation of the nine programs as the main focus, the Ministry of Commerce will work with the relevant departments in formulating specific work plans and enhancing coordination with Africa. With our joint efforts, it is hoped that Chinese and African people get to benefit from the implementation of the nine programs at an early date and China-Africa practical cooperation will follow the track of high-quality and high-level development. Thank you.

China Business News: On November 30, Premier Li Keqiang co-chaired the 26th regular meeting with Russian Prime Minister Mishustin via video link. What positive outcomes on trade and economic fronts have been achieved? What is your take on the trade and economic practical cooperation between the two sides?

During the 26th regular meeting on November 30, the two sides gave full recognition of the sound momentum of China-Russia trade and economic relations and their cooperation in all fields, and reached multiple consensus on future cooperation, thus injecting new impetus to China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era. Regarding trade and economy, five major outcomes have been yielded:

First, the two sides should keep advancing high-quality development of bilateral trade. Since the beginning of this year, bilateral trade has presented robust momentum for growth, with trade in goods reaching a record high of USD115.6 billion for the first ten months, surpassing the whole-year level of 2020. The Road Map of High-Quality Development of Goods and Services Trade between China and Russia compiled by MOFCOM and the Russian side has set out plans to reach the target of USD200-billion bilateral trade. The two sides have also agreed to promote cross-border e-commerce and services trade, enhance the level of facilitation, relax market access for agricultural products, leverage exhibitions and other exchange platforms, and fully implement the Agreement on Trade and Economic Cooperation between EAEU and China.

Second, the two sides should push for new breakthroughs in investment and major cooperation projects. China’s direct investment to Russia rose by 39.1% in the first ten months of this year. Commercial authorities of the the two countries are looking into the feasibility of upgrading their investment agreement, with a view to providing a better institutional arrangement for investment cooperation. Progress has been seen in major strategic projects in such areas as nuclear power, aviation and aerospace. The Heihe-Blagoveshchensk Heilongjiang highway bridge is ready to open. Track-laying is completed for the tongjiang cross-river railway bridge. The two sides have signed the Road Map of China-Russia Cooperation on Satellite Navigation 2021-2025, and are negotiating an intergovernmental agreement on a joint international lunar research station.

Third, the two sides should deepen cooperation on industrial and supply chains. Both sides agreed to enhance coordination on policies, industrial development and projects, advance cooperation on upstream and downstream industries in areas of, among others, energy and mining, agricultural and forestry development, industrial manufacturing and information communication. The two countries will set up industrial parks for mechanical and electric products, shore up connectivity of infrastructure software and hardware, and push for further integration of industrial and supply chains. In addition, they will also take measures to overcome the pandemic’s impacts, so as to ensure cross-border transportation and normal functioning of ports.

Fourth, actively promoting cooperation in emerging areas. During this meeting, MOFCOM and the Russian Ministry of Economic Development signed a MoU on investment cooperation in digital economy to encourage and support cooperation between businesses of the two countries and promote digital empowerment of China-Russia cooperation. The two sides agreed to further strengthen cooperation in science and technology innovation and create new growth drivers such as 5G, biomedicine, green and low-carbon transformation and smart cities. The two sides also reached new consensus on enhancing cooperation in urban construction and building materials in the Russian Far East, and agreed to jointly prepare a roadmap for the development of China-Russian cooperation in the Russian Arctic.

Fifth, comprehensively strengthening cooperation in multilateral areas. The two sides agreed to strengthen coordination of positions on global economic governance and maintenance of the multilateral trading system. During the prime ministers’ meeting, MOFCOM and the Russian counterpart signed a memorandum on multilateral and regional economic cooperation with the common goal to deepen coordination and cooperation within multilateral and regional frameworks such as the WTO, BRICS, the SCO, the G20, APEC and the Greater Tumen Initiative, and promote the alignment between the BRI and the building of Eurasian Economic Union.

In the next step, China will work with Russia to fully implement the important consensus between the two heads of state and the outcomes of the prime ministers’ meeting. The two countries will further leverage intergovernmental cooperation mechanisms to promote bilateral economic and trade relations and pragmatic cooperation in a larger scope, to wider areas and at deeper levels, and continuously consolidate and deepen China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era. Thank you.

Securities Times: On the evening of November 26 (Geneva time), the WTO decided to postpone MC12 indefinitely. What is the comment of China?

Shu Jueting: The second postponement of MC12 due to COVID-19 well justifies the necessity and urgency of strengthening international cooperation on combating the pandemic together. China understands the decision by the General Council.

China stands ready to work with all members to strengthen solidarity and cooperation and sustain the momentum of work, and intensify relevant consultations for positive outcomes at MC12. Thank you.

MNI: The new coronavirus variant may once again challenge the global supply chain. How will it impact China’s imports and exports?

Shu Jueting: At present, the Covid-19 pandemic is undergoing many twists and turns, and world economic recovery is still facing uncertainties. We will continue to closely follow changes in the situation, study and predict in a timely manner the possible impact on China’s foreign trade sector and global supply chain brought by the pandemic, and introduce policy measures to properly address possible problems and difficulties faced by foreign trade companies. Thank you.

Shu Jueting: Any more questions? If there’re no more questions, this is the end of today’s press conference. Thank you.

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