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MOFCOM Regular Press Conference (February 17, 2022)

Gao Feng: Friends from the press, good afternoon. Welcome to MOFCOM’s regular press conference. Since I don’t have any announcement to make today, we can proceed directly to the Q&A session.

The floor is open.

China News Service: This year marks the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties between China and Mexico. What is MOFCOM’s comment on the achievements in China-Mexico trade and economic cooperation in recent years? Going forward, what measures will be taken to bring commercial cooperation between the two countries to a higher level?

Gao Feng: China-Mexico ties have embarked on a fast lane of development with fruitful mutually-beneficial commercial cooperation since the establishment of diplomatic ties 50 years ago, particularly since the establishment of China-Mexico comprehensive strategic partnership in 2013. Mexico is China's second largest trading partner in Latin America, and China is Mexico's second largest trading partner in the world. In 2021, China-Mexico trade reached a new record high, up 41.9% year-on-year, reaching USD86.6 billion. Mexico is an important project contracting market and investment destination for China in Latin America, and cooperation between the two countries is making smooth progress in transport infrastructure, processing, manufacturing, telecommunications, traditional and clean energy, among others. China-Mexico cooperation against COVID-19 has been fruitful. China provides full support for Mexico’s procurement of vaccines and COVID-response supplies.

On February 14, President Xi Jinping and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador exchanged congratulatory messages to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Mexico. Going forward, China stands ready to work with Mexico under the strategic leadership of the two heads of state to take the opportunity of the 50th anniversary to further align development plans, consolidate cooperation in areas with traditional advantages, actively expand cooperation in green development, digital economy, electric vehicles and other emerging industries, advance trade and investment facilitation, strengthen regional and multilateral cooperation, promote shared development, and continuously enrich China-Mexico comprehensive strategic partnership to the benefit of the two countries and peoples.

Phoenix TV: On Wednesday, the U.S. Trade Representative’s office stated in a new assessment report that the U.S. needs to seek new strategies and upgrade its domestic trade tools to address China’s “state-led, non-market approach”. What’s China’s comment? How does MOFCOM view the U.S.’s current trade policies on China? Has trade teams from the two sides been in contact recently?

Gao Feng: The U.S.’s labeling of China as “non-market oriented” and claims that Chinese policies and practices are against principles of market economy and lead to unfair competition lack evidence from international trade and economic rules and conflict with the facts. Various models of market economy exist, and China’s economic accomplishments over the past forty-plus years owes much to the reform and opening-up policies and effective combination of market mechanisms and government initiatives. That is a part of valuable experience we obtained from our economic development.

We noticed the U.S.’s statement of updating its domestic trade tools. It is our belief that the U.S., as a WTO member, should ensure that its trade tools comply with WTO rules, rather than setting forth a set of new rules to exercise unilateralism, protectionism and bullying under the pretext of new strategies.

China and the U.S. share cast common interests, and cooperation is the only right choice. It is hoped that the U.S. adopt reasonable and practical China trade policies, move in the same direction with China, uphold mutual respect, mutual benefit and win-win outcomes, and push China-U.S. relations back onto the correct track of sound and stable development. This is in the fundamental interests of the Chinese and American peoples. It is also what the rest of the international community expects from our two countries.

The trade teams from both sides are in normal contact. Thank you.

China Business Daily: Some analysis said that for most of this year, the global supply of some raw materials will be persistently constrained. What will MOFCOM do to help foreign trade companies effectively respond to the rising prices and supply crunch of raw materials this year?

Gao Feng: A range of factors including the pandemic have resulted in disruptions of global industrial and supply chains and taken a heavy toll on businesses and consumers across the globe. MOFCOM will work with local governments and relevant departments to introduce multiple measures to keep the industrial and supply chains of foreign trade stable and smooth. We will work vigorously to guide companies to make most of all policy measures, further diversify importation, step up international cooperation, build mutually beneficial trade channels for raw materials, and help foreign trade companies strengthen coordination between upstream and downstream industries along the industrial and supply chains, lower comprehensive costs and enhance their competitiveness. In addition, we will follow the instructions of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council and cooperate with relevant departments to support local governments in improving business environment, fully implementing measures such as tax reduction and fee cuts, cracking down on arbitrary charges against enterprises, with a view to facilitating the sound development of foreign trade companies. Thank you.

The Paper: It’s reported that on February 14, the Ministry of Electronics and Information of India issued a ban on 54 apps citing concerns over “security threat”, most of which are products from Chinese companies. On February 15, India’s tax authorities searched premises of some Chinese companies operating in India. How does MOFCOM respond to recent actions by the Indian side targeting Chinese companies?

Recently, the suppressive measures by relevant Indian departments on Chinese companies operating in India and their products have seriously undermined the lawful rights and interests of Chinese companies. China is deeply concerned about it.

We’ve noted that foreign investors including Chinese companies are increasingly worried about India’s investment environment. Foreign investors have created numerous local jobs and contributed to India’s economic development. We hope that India can improve its business environment, and treat all foreign investors including Chinese companies in a fair, transparent and non-discriminatory manner.

As neighbors, China and India are major economic and trading partners of each other. Their bilateral trade amounted to USD125.7 billion in 2021, up by 43% year-on-year and hitting the USD100 billion mark for the first time in history. The trade and economic cooperation between the two countries boasts strong resilience and huge potential. We hope that India can take concrete actions to maintain the sound momentum of bilateral trade and economic cooperation to benefit the two countries and their peoples. Thank you.

Cover News: Recently, the State Council issued the Approval of the Establishment of Integrated Pilot Zones for Cross-Border E-Commerce in 27 Cities and Regions including Erdos, agreeing to establish cross-border e-commerce pilot zones in 27 cities and regions such as Erdos, Yangzhou and Zhenjiang. Could you describe the expanded network of cross-border e-commerce pilot zones? What will MOFCOM do to guide these pilot zones to develop competitive differentiation and promote their high-quality development?

Gao Feng: In recent years, China's cross-border e-commerce has developed rapidly. According to customs statistics, since 2017, China's cross-border e-commerce has grown by nearly tenfold in five years, with the import and export volume reaching RMB1.98 trillion in 2021, a year-on-year increase of 15%. In order to further promote cross-border e-commerce, the State Council recently approved the establishment of integrated pilot zones for cross-border e-commerce in 27 cities and regions. Up to now, 132 integrated pilot zones for cross-border e-commerce have been set up nationwide. There are three main features for their layout: First, wide coverage. They could be found in the whole country, pursuing a development that coordinates the coastal and inland areas and connects the eastern and western regions. Second, clear regional priorities. They could be found in Guangdong, Jiangsu, Zhejiang and other major foreign trade provinces, and municipalities such as Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai and Chongqing. Third, diversified development features. They could be found in coastal and border cities and inland hub cities, as well as cities with clear advantages in foreign trade or industries. The integrated pilot zones for cross-border e-commerce will play a more active role in promoting high-level opening-up of the regions.

In the next step, the Ministry of Commerce will continue to work with relevant departments to implement relevant work. First, we will work faster to promote newly-established integrated pilot zones for cross-border e-commerce in formulating and implementing specific work plans based on local foreign trade and industrial characteristics, and strive for outcomes at an early date. At the same time, we will improve the evaluation and exit mechanism of the integrated pilot zones to dynamically adjust the list of the zones and ensure that only the qualified ones will remain. Second, we will improve supporting policies. We will optimize the list of retail imported goods under cross-border e-commerce, facilitate the management of returns of imports and exports in cross-border e-commerce, and study and formulate guidelines for intellectual property protection of cross-border e-commerce. Third, we will continuously promote the setting of rules and standards, strengthen the development of market players, step up brand building and promote high-quality development. Fourth, we will apply smart digital technologies. We will guide all integrated pilot zones in relying on physical industrial parks of cross-border e-commerce, promoting the use of digital technologies and tools, optimizing and upgrading the whole process and all links of foreign trade, promoting the in-depth integration of trade and industry, and improving the foreign trade industrial chain and ecosystem. Fifth, we will continue to deepen international cooperation. We will continue to deepen cooperation on "Silk Road E-commerce", strengthen intergovernmental cooperation with relevant countries in related fields, promote two-way opening up, actively participate in the formulation of international rules and contribute more Chinese wisdom. Thank you.

Global Times: What progress can we expect this year from China’s accession to CPTPP and DEPA? What other initiatives will MOFCOM take to promote the signing of more free trade agreements?

Gao Feng: Regarding the accession to the CPTPP, China has conducted a full, comprehensive and in-depth study and assessment of the content of the agreement. China is willing to make efforts to fully meet the standards of CPTPP rules through reforms and make high-level opening-up commitments in the area of market access that will exceed China’s practices in existing pacts, so as to provide members with market access opportunities of huge commercial benefits. Currently, China is engaging in consultations with members in accordance with the relevant accession procedures of the CPTPP.

Regarding the accession to the DEPA, China is maintaining close communication with relevant parties and technical consultations are underway. China is ready to provide companies from DEPA members with cooperation opportunities and a broad market, tighten the mutual digital economy cooperation, and contribute to promoting innovation and sustainable development among members.

Regarding negotiating more FTAs, China’s FTA partners have been expanding, with increasingly richer content and ever-improving quality of the agreements thanks to the efforts of the past 20 years. So far, China has signed 19 FTAs with 26 countries and regions, with FTA partners covering Asia, Oceania, Latin America, Europe and Africa. China's trade with FTA partners accounted for about 35% of total foreign trade. In 2021, the total imports and exports between China and the partners with FTAs in force totaled RMB10.8 trillion, an increase of 23.6%, 2.2 and 2.4 percentage points higher than the overall growth rate of foreign trade and import and export growth with non-FTA partners respectively over the same period. Going forward, we will follow the deployment of the Central Committee of the CPC and the State Council to make China’s FTA network bigger, stronger and better so as to contribute to fostering a new development paradigm. We will continue to promote China-GCC, China-Israel, China-Norway, China-Ecuador, China-Japan-South Korea and other FTA negotiations, negotiate FTAs with more interested trading partners, and jointly promote regional economic integration and trade and investment Liberalization and facilitation. We will further enhance the quality of FTAs. Efforts will be made to increase the proportion of zero tariffs for trade in goods, and liberalize market access for trade in services and investment. We will actively participate in negotiations on new issues such as the digital economy and environmental protection. At the same time, we will strive to improve the overall utilization rate of the FTAs so that they can bring greater benefits to the enterprises and people of the countries concerned at a faster pace. Thank you.

Gao Feng: Do you have any other question? If there isn’t any, this is the end of today’s conference, thank you!

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