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MOFCOM Regular Press Conference (April 28, 2022)

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

The floor is now open.

Economic Information Daily: Recently, sporadic COVID infections could be found in some localities. What arrangements has the Ministry of Commerce made to ensure the supply of daily necessities?

Gao Feng: In view of the recent sporadic COVID infections, the special task force of the Ministry of Commerce for ensuring market supply is always ready. We take active measures to strengthen cross-regional supply of goods, keep cross-regional logistics smooth, urge and guide major areas of epidemic prevention and control in strengthening distribution to end users, and do everything we can to ensure the total supply of daily necessities.

First, giving full play to the coordination mechanism to ensure the supply of goods. We have further strengthened the role of the coordination mechanism with help coming from all sides for key areas of epidemic prevention and control, increased the transport capacity of daily necessities, and ensured the stable supply of goods. As of April 27, 12 provinces, including Inner Mongolia, Liaoning, Zhejiang, Fujian, Jiangxi, Shandong, Henan, Hubei, Sichuan, Guangxi, Yunnan and Ningxia, had supplied 27,808 tons of vegetables, 850 tons of rice and flour, 500 tons of meat and eggs and 6,180 tons of instant noodles to Shanghai.

Second, strengthening the coordination of large-scale enterprises for prioritizing the shipment of supplies in emergency. For key areas of epidemic prevention and control, we will coordinate the trading volume and total amount of fresh agricultural produce that could be allocated and transported in large wholesale markets for agricultural produce in neighboring provinces, help local major commercial enterprises for prioritizing the shipment of supplies in emergency establish a direct partnership with large wholesale markets of agricultural produce, and timely organize trans-regional shipment as needed to ensure sufficient supply of daily necessities.

Third, strengthening the overall guidance to ensure supply. We will actively guide all localities in regarding the supply of daily necessities as one of their priorities in epidemic prevention and control, and making forward-looking arrangements. On the basis of compiling and distributing the manual on ensuring market supply and sharing experience and practice at the early stage, we will also share relevant local practices on ensuring supplies such as "four measures for distribution" in a targeted manner, providing reference and support for further improving distribution to end users in key areas of epidemic prevention and control.

In accordance with the overall arrangement of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, the Ministry of Commerce will closely monitor the changing situation of the pandemic and market supply, better ensure supplies under COVID-19, strengthen the coordination mechanism to ensure the supply of goods, guide local governments in improving the work plan to ensure supply, and fully guarantee the market supply of daily necessities in the areas affected by the epidemic. Thank you.

Market News International: U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen suggested recently the U.S. government is open to scaling back the tariffs on merchandise imports from China to help provide Americans relief from inflation and will re-examine carefully its trade strategy with respect to China. What is the response of the Ministry of Commerce? In the near future, will the economic and trade teams of China and the United States further communicate on removing the additional tariffs on Chinese goods? Is there any progress?

Gao Feng: We have noticed the relevant reports. China has always believed that the tariff measures the US has unilaterally imposed on China are not good for China or the US, and still worse for the rest of the world. Under the current high inflation, it is in the fundamental interests of American businesses and consumers for the United States to remove the additional tariffs on Chinese goods.

At present, the economic and trade teams of China and the United States have maintained normal communication. Thank you.

CBN: China’s export to the EU grew by 23.3% year-on-year in the first quarter of this year. China’s export to Germany and France rose more than 17%. Its export to Italy registered an even greater growth of 37.6%. What do you think has driven such robust growth in China-EU trade under the current circumstances?

Gao Feng: China and the EU share broad common interests and a profound basis for cooperation and enjoy strong economic complementarities. In the first quarter of this year, China-EU trade reached USD205.87 billion, up 12.2% year-on-year. The following features can be observed.

First, China-EU industrial cooperation goes deeper. In the first quarter of this year, China-EU trade in mechanical and electrical products, light industrial products and high-tech products grew 10%, 19% and 31% respectively. China-EU trade in intermediate goods amounted to USD84.26 billion, accounting for 40.9% of the total.

Second, price is a big driving force. Due to the rising costs of raw materials and international shipping, the value of China-EU trade grew much faster than the volume.

Third, the entry into force of China-EU GI agreement continues to unleash benefits. In the first quarter of this year, China-EU trade in tea, beer, apples, and cheese grew 54%, 21%, 69% and 56% respectively.

Under the current circumstances, deepening the mutually-beneficial cooperation between China and the EU is in the interest of both sides and can boost world economic recovery. China is ready to work together with the EU to maintain stable industrial and supply chains, and seek new growth in such areas as pandemic response, green development, digital economy and technology so as to inject new impetus into sound and sustained development of bilateral trade and economic cooperation. Thank you.

Cover: As the Covid-19 pandemic hits some places, consumers are stockpiling supplies. How will MOFCOM monitor and identify demands for supplies and ensure there are sufficient goods in the upcoming May Day holiday?

Gao Feng: Overall speaking, the supply of essential products for daily consumption is sufficient and their prices remain stable in China. According to our monitoring, the food prices in the 100 large agricultural wholesale markets on April 27 was the same as a week ago. Edible oil and pork saw a price hike of 0.4% and 8.1% respectively while the price of vegetable was down by 7.9% from a week ago.

MOFCOM has made arrangements to instruct local commerce authorities to ensure supplies during the holiday. We will encourage large distributors of agricultural products to work closely with production bases to increase the supply of daily necessities, further expand inventory and diversify the products according to the feature of consumption during holidays. For places hit hard by the pandemic, we will ensure the outlets that provide essential products are open and people that deliver supplies to households can move smoothly under the condition of observing pandemic control protocols in a bid to meet people’s demands during the holiday.

We have noted the sporadic consumer stockpiling in some places due to the pandemic control measures. We establish a 24-hour communication mechanism with local governments, follow the trends of market and give local authorities guidance on how to improve supply emergency plans. We monitor markets more frequently and ensure unblocked distribution and transportation of daily necessities. We encourage wholesale markets and supermarkets to prepare more supplies, enhance distribution capacity, extend business hours and open all hours to ensure there are sufficient supplies for consumers. Thank you.

CNBC: Some foreign-invested enterprises said the white list introduced by Shanghai is a welcome first step, but only 30% to 40% employees can return to work in reality. What trend in the resumption of work and production has been observed by MOFCOM in the past week after the white list was released? What measures will be taken to facilitate the operation of FIEs in China?

Gao Feng: According to our knowledge, the first group of 666 companies on the white list include 247 FIEs, covering important industries such as integrated circuit, auto-making, equipment manufacturing, and bio-pharmacy. Major FIEs, such as Volkswagen and Tesla, are resuming work and production in an orderly fashion. Some FIEs are actively applying to be listed as the second group of companies.

We also took note of the practical difficulties in the process of operation resumption on the ground. We are working with members of the task force for key foreign-invested projects and related authorities of the Shanghai government to coordinate the efforts, so that business can resume operation successfully. Thank you.

Gao Feng: Are there any more questions? If not, this is the end of the press conference. Thank you.



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