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MOFCOM Regular Press Conference (March 31, 2022)

Shu Jueting: Friends from the press, good afternoon. Welcome to MOFCOM regular press conference. First, I have an announcement to make.

On the special ministerial conference of the Forum for Economic and Trade Co-operation between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries

The special ministerial conference of the Forum for Economic and Trade Co-operation between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries (Forum Macao) will be held in Macao on April 10, 2022. Government delegations from China and eight Portuguese-speaking countries, including Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Portugal, Sao Tome and Principe and Timor Leste, will attend this special conference online.

The theme of this special conference is "Fighting COVID-19 Together for Common Development". The major activities include the opening ceremony, the special conference and the inauguration ceremony of the China-Portugal Center for COVID-19 Response. Participants to the forum will also sign a Joint Declaration.

The Forum Macao, founded in Macao in October 2003, is an intergovernmental multilateral economic and trade cooperation mechanism with the theme of economic and trade promotion and development, launched and sponsored by the Central People's Government of China, organized by the government of Macao Special Administrative Region, and attended by eight Portuguese-speaking countries, including Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Portugal, Sao Tome and Principe and Timor Leste. The forum aims to give full play to Macao's role as a platform linking China and Portuguese-speaking countries, strengthen economic, trade and cultural exchanges between China and Portuguese-speaking countries, and promote the common development of the Mainland, Macao and Portuguese-speaking countries. This special conference will create new momentum for deepening mutually beneficial cooperation between China and Portuguese-speaking countries, cooperation against the pandemic, and the economic development of participating countries. It will also bring new opportunities for Macao to consolidate its position as a service platform for business cooperation between China and Portuguese-speaking countries and appropriately diversify its economy.

That concludes the announcement. Now I’m ready to take your questions.

The floor is open.

Phoenix TV: On March 25, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) of the United States announced that China Telecom Americas and China Mobile International (USA) Inc. were included in the list of communications equipment and services that pose a threat to national security (also known as the list of untrusted vendors). What's the comment of the Ministry of Commerce?

Shu Jueting: China has noticed the relevant reports. The FCC's move aims to suppress Chinese enterprises again after wantonly revoking Chinese companies’ section 214 authorization recently. The United States generalizes the concept of national security, puts Chinese companies on the so-called "list of untrusted vendors" with no factual basis, restricts the market access of business products and services, imposes sanctions on and suppresses enterprises by abusing the power of state, seriously violates the basic market principles and recognized international economic and trade rules, and damages the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies and their consumers, including American users. China firmly opposes this.

The U.S. side should immediately correct its wrongdoings, stop politicizing economic and trade issues, and provide a fair, stable and non-discriminatory market environment for the operation of companies from all countries, including China, in the United States. China will take necessary measures to resolutely safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies. Thank you.

The Paper: The European Commission has recently agreed on rules of Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM). After a transitional period, the EU will officially levy “carbon tariffs” starting from 2026. What’s MOFCOM’s comment on CBAM? Does MOFCOM regard it as covert trade protectionism? What are its possible impacts on China-EU trade?

Shu Jueting: We have noticed that the European Commission has recently reached an agreement on draft legislation of CBAM. China hopes that EU legislative measures should be in keeping with WTO rules and refrain from erecting new trade barriers, so as to liberalize and facilitate green trade and investment and foster synergy to combat the challenge of climate change. Thank you.

CNBC: This round of resurging domestic pandemic has stalled production in many places. How will it impact Chinese foreign trade companies, particularly the micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs)?

Shu Jueting: We are paying close attention to the impact of this round of Covid-19 reemergence on foreign trade businesses, MSMEs in particular. Judging from the feedback we have received, some foreign trade companies have faced such temporary issues as disrupted business activities and chocked logistics, as a result of the pandemic. Meanwhile, as problems including rising raw material costs, impeded cross-border maritime transport and clogged supply chains have not been substantially addressed, foreign trade businesses, especially MSMEs, are still faced with grave operational pressure.

In response to the difficulties and challenges of the businesses, MOFCOM will work with relevant authorities and local governments to make sure that policies to stabilize foreign trade are thoroughly implemented. We will carry out tax and fee cuts, improve the business environment, and help address logistics and transportation bottlenecks, to keep industrial and supply chains of foreign trade companies stable and unimpeded. Meanwhile, we will instruct local authorities to introduce supports tailored to their local conditions, to jointly help foreign trade companies overcome risks and challenges. Thank you.

The Reuters: U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai recently said that the U.S. would more actively pressure China and that the U.S. was preparing for a new approach to China trade policy. What’s MOFCOM’s response? Plus, What are the latest updates from the communication between Chinese and U.S. economic and trade teams?

Shu Jueting: We believe that the U.S., as a WTO member, should align its trade policies and practices with WTO rules, instead of starting it all over again and pursuing unilateralism and protectionism under the pretext of “new approach to trade policy”. For China and the U.S., with enormous common interests, cooperation is the only right choice. It is hoped that the U.S. adopt rational and practical China trade policies, work towards the same goals as China, and pursue sound and stable development of China-U.S. trade and economic relations in the spirit of mutual respect and mutual benefit. This serves the fundamental interests of the two peoples and meets the expectation of the international community.

Right now, our trade and economic teams are in normal contact. Thank you.

TASS: It is reported that Saudi Arabia is considering using RMB in settle oil deals with China. Some experts believe that in a complex international climate, such a step bears great political and strategic significance. Recently, Russia and China plan to expand the usage of their national currencies in bilateral and international trade. What’s MOFCOM’s outlook for the continuing use of rubles and RMB in China-Russia trade settlement? What’s China’s assessment on such a possibility?

Shu Jueting: As for settlement in national currencies, I would refer you to the competent authority. China will conduct normal trade and economic cooperation with countries in a spirit of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit. Thank you.

Bloomberg: The U.S. Department of Commerce on Monday announced an investigation into solar panels imported from four Southeast Asian nations for alleged circumvention of tariffs by Chinese solar producers. What's the comment of MOFCOM?

Shu Jueting: The U.S. Department of Commerce has decided to launch an investigation into alleged circumvention of duties by PV makers in Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand and Cambodia at the request of an American PV company. We have noticed that this decision has been widely opposed by the PV industry in the U.S., which believes that this will seriously harm the development of PV power generation projects in the U.S., cause a huge blow to the solar energy market in the U.S., directly affect nearly 90% of the employment of the PV industry in the U.S., while undermining the efforts made by the U.S. to cope with climate change.

It is hoped that the U.S. will avoid trade protectionist measures, keep global PV industrial and supply chains stable, and promote cooperation against climate change. Thank you.

Shu Jueting: Are there any other questions? If not, this is the end of the press conference. Thank you.

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