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MOFCOM Regular Press Conference (July 21, 2022)

Shu Jueting: Members of the press, good afternoon. Welcome to MOFCOM’s regular press conference. To start with, let me share with you two pieces of information.

I. About China’s online retail in the first half of the year

In the first half of the year, China’s online retail market stabilized and rebounded, showing a good momentum of recovery. Statistics from the National Bureau of Statistics show that China’s online retail sales reached RMB6.3 trillion in H1, up 3.1% year-on-year. Of these, physical goods accounted for RMB5.45 trillion, up 5.6%, whose percentage in social retail sales of consumer goods rose by 2.2 percentage points over the same period of last year to reach 25.9%. According to commerce big data monitoring, the online retail market showed the following characteristics in H1.

First, basic living consumption and sales of upgraded goods increased rapidly. In H1, online sales of grain, cooking oil and food increased by 21.9% year-on-year; sales of camping shelters, portable tables, chairs and beds and ski kits were up 331.8%, 123.1% and 72.7% respectively; and sales of central air conditioners, energy efficient freezers and energy efficient water heaters grew by 124.0%, 33.8% and 27.2%.

Second, the central and northeast regions continued to lead the country. In H1, online retail sales in these regions were up 8.1% and 4.7%, respectively 5 and 1.6 percentage points higher than the national level. Those of the western and eastern regions increased by 4.5% and 2.9% year-on-year.

Third, online services consumption rebounded gradually. In H1, online dining sales grew 2.6% year-on-year, with eat-in sales and delivery sales up 14.2% and 0.8% respectively year-on-year.

Fourth, the rural online retail market continued to recover. In H1, China’s rural online retail sales stood at RMB975.93 billion, up 2.5% year-on-year. Of these, physical goods accounted for RMB890.44 billion, up 3.6%. Online retail sales of agricultural products increased by 11.2% year-on-year to reach RMB250.67 billion.

Fifth, new e-commerce business types and models remained dynamic. In H1, key e-commerce platforms closely monitored by commerce big data reported over 60 million live-streaming sessions, with a total viewership of 517 billion and over 47.5 million products featured.

II. About the ASEAN Plus Three Forum on Industrial China and Supply Chain Cooperation

In order to implement Premier Li Keqiang’s initiative at the 24th ASEAN Plus Three Summit in October 2021, MOFCOM and Jiangsu Provincial People’s Government will co-host the ASEAN Plus Three Forum on Industrial China and Supply Chain Cooperation and Taihu East Asian Entrepreneurs Forum in a hybrid mode on July 29. Under the theme of ‘Connecting Chains, Promoting Prosperity’, the Forum will underscore industrial chain and supply chain cooperation among governments, industries, and the academia and promote business-centered cooperation across related areas. Political leaders, heads of government departments and international organizations, representatives of trade and investment promotion agencies and trade associations, business leaders and scholars from ASEAN plus three will have an in-depth exchange of views on industrial chain and supply chain cooperation.

So much for the opening announcements. Now I’d like to take your questions.

The floor is open for questions.

The Paper: Since May, the RMB has been rapidly appreciating against the euro. What impact does this have on China-EU trade? What’s MOFCOM’s view on the next stage?

Shu Jueting: Exchange rate fluctuations result from a combination of various factors in the market and have multidimensional impacts on trade, investment and other business activities. We have always been encouraging and supporting enterprises to view exchange rate changes objectively, adapt to the changes proactively, and continuously improve exchange rate risk management through market-based approaches such as hedging tools in order to operate more prudently. Since the beginning of this year, China-EU trade has been developing steadily. In the first half of 2022, bilateral trade reached USD420.6 billion, a year-on-year increase of 8.4%. It is expected to maintain sound development throughout the year. Thanks.

South China Morning Post, Hong Kong: It was reported recently that the U.S. administration had asked the Republic of Korea (RoK) to reply before August whether to join the U.S.-led "Quartet Chip Alliance". The RoK said that it was discussing with the U.S. on how to strengthen cooperation in chip manufacturing. What is MOFCOM's comment on this development, and how do you view the possible impact of the alliance on China's semiconductor industry?

Shu Jueting: The stability of industrial and supply chains is a global issue attracting great attention from all parties. China believes that no matter what the framework arrangement is, it should be inclusive and open rather than exclusive and discriminatory; it should contribute to the stability of global industrial and supply chains, rather than damage and fragment the global market. Under the current circumstances, it is beneficial to all parties concerned and the whole world to enhance the openness of and cooperation on industrial and supply chains to prevent fragmentation. Thanks.

China News Service: Recently, 27 government departments including MOFCOM issued the opinions on promoting the high-quality development of foreign trade in culture. We have noticed that in 2014 the State Council issued the opinions on accelerating the development of foreign trade in culture. What is the background of and main considerations behind the issue of the opinions by MOFCOM and relevant government departments this time?

Shu Jueting: Since the State Council issued the opinions on accelerating the development of foreign trade in culture in 2014, MOFCOM, together with relevant government departments and localities, has earnestly implemented various policies and measures, and contributed to the remarkable development of China's foreign trade in culture, the volume of which exceeded USD200 billion for the first time in 2021, up 38.7% year-on-year. Rapid development has been achieved in China’s export of its widely popular films, television series, online literature, online audio-visual products, creative products and others. High-quality books, films, television series and other cultural products and services that are imported into China better meet the diverse cultural needs of the people. Exchanges and mutual learning between Chinese and foreign cultures continue to deepen.

As a new round of technological revolution is advancing at a faster pace, digital technologies have empowered the cultural sector, giving rise to new business types and models and creating new development opportunities for cultural trade. To implement the overall planning of the Outline of the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) for National Economic and Social Development and Vision 2035, and to seize the new opportunities of the digital economy, 27 authorities including MOFCOM have recently published Opinions on Advancing High-Quality Development of Foreign Trade in Culture. The Opinions puts forward 28 tasks and measures related to deepening reform and opening up, tapping into innovation-driven growth momentum, stimulating the vitality of market players, expanding cooperation channels and networks, strengthening organization and support, and other aspects. The Opinions aims at supporting expanding trade of high-quality cultural products and services, helping the Chinese culture go global, promoting exchanges and mutual learning among cultures, and cultivating an institutional framework and policy system that accommodates digitization, high-quality development and objectives of culture foreign trade.

In the next stage, MOFCOM will work with relevant authorities and local governments to carry out the Opinions and refine policies and measures to ensure implementation and bring culture foreign trade to a higher level. Thank you.

China Business News: In the first half this year, China’s trade with the ROK, China’s fourth largest trading partner, increased by 9.4% year-on-year. China and the ROK are also advancing the phase-two negotiation of their FTA. What are the reasons behind their booming trade relations? What are the progress so far in the phase-two negotiation?

Shu Jueting: China and the ROK are important trading partners for each other. Over the past thirty years since the establishment of their diplomatic relationship, the two countries have experienced a leap forward in bilateral trade. In 2021, bilateral trade surpassed the US$360 billion mark, 72 times the level 30 years ago. Through seeking synergy between development strategies, implementing the bilateral FTA, pushing forward cooperation on industrial parks, and deepening third-market cooperation, China and the ROK has built an industrial and supply chain system that is mutually integrated, stable and smooth. The entry into force of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement earlier this year opens up a broader space for further trade and economic cooperation between our two countries. In the first half of 2022, China-ROK bilateral trade reached US$184.25 billion, up 9.4% year-on-year. This rapid growth in the context of brittle global economic recovery gives full display to the strong complementarity between our economies, as well as the resilience and potential of our trade and economic cooperation.

On your second question: Since the signing of the China-ROK FTA in 2015, the two sides have had eight rounds of tariffs reduction, and over 40% of the tariff lines of imports from the ROK enjoy zero tariff treatment. Imports and exports covered by the agreement have seen significant growth, and bilateral trade and investment have increased notably. The FTA has been a major contributor to bilateral trade and economic relations.

According to relevant provisions of the FTA, the two sides have begun the phase-two negotiation with consultations on high-level services trade and investment liberalization in the form of negative lists. Nine rounds of negotiation have been carried out with substantial progress. Recently the two sides have had a DG-level meeting, reaching consensus on accelerating follow-up consultations. China stands ready to work with the ROK to keep the momentum and conclude a mutually beneficial agreement at an early date to further elevate openness and cooperation of services trade and investment between the two countries and bring the China-ROK trade and economic relationship to a higher level. Thank you.

Shu Jueting: Do you have any question? If not, this is the end of today’s press conference. Thank you.

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