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Regular Press Conference of MOFCOM (October 27, 2022)

Shu Jueting: Dear friends from the press, good afternoon. Today I have two announcements to make.

I. Utilization of foreign investment from January to September this year

From January to September this year, China’s paid-in foreign investment totaled RMB1.00376 trillion, up by 15.6% year-on-year in comparable terms (or USD155.3 billion and up by 18.9% year-on-year).

Sector-wise, the paid-in foreign investment in the services industry grew by 6.7% to RMB741.43 billion. The high-tech sector’s utilized foreign investment rose by 32.3%, among which high-tech manufacturing grew by 48.6%, and high-tech services increased by 27.9%.

Source-wise, the paid-in investment from Germany, the ROK, Japan and the UK grew by 114.3%, 90.7%, 39.5% and 22.3% respectively (including investment through free ports).

Region-wise, the foreign investment utilized in the eastern, central and western parts of China increased by 13.3%, 34.8% and 33% respectively.

II. Foreign investment cooperation from January to September this year

From January to September 2022, our non-financial outbound direct investment topped RMB567.19 billion, up by 8.5% year-on-year (or USD85.85 billion, up by 6.3%). In breakdown, USD29.32 billion of non-financial ODI flowed to leasing and commercial services, growing 26.7% year-on-year. Investment to manufacturing, retail and wholesaling and construction sectors also presented an upward trend. Non-financial ODI in the Belt & Road countries grew by 5.2% to USD15.65 billion, accounting for 18.2% of the total in the same period.

For the January-to-September period, the turnover of overseas contracted projects reached RMB706.95 billion, growing 1.7% year-on-year (or USD107 billion, down by 0.4% year-on-year). Newly signed contractual value stood at RMB971.66 billion, down by 5.9% year-on-year (or USD147.07 billion, down by 7.9% year-on-year). The turnover of contracted projects undertaken in the Belt & Road countries amounted to USD57.33 billion, with USD76.7 billion worth of new contracts having been signed, accounting for 53.6% and 52.2% of the totals.

Shu Jueting: So much about the announcements for today. Now the floor is open for questions.

Economic Daily: Recently, at the regular policy briefing of the State Council on a package of policies aimed to stabilize economy, MOFCOM mentioned that efforts would be stepped up to stabilize foreign investment and work to implement a batch of key foreign investment projects. Could you brief us on the progress made so far?

Shu Jueting: To follow through President Xi’s important instructions to stabilize fundamentals of foreign trade and investment, and implement the State Council’s package of policies to stabilize economy and its follow-up measures, the task force of key foreign investment projects under the coordination mechanism of foreign trade and investment has further fleshed out and strengthened the supportive measures for key foreign investment projects. Strides have been made in projects that are in the initial stage, under construction and in operation.

Recently, focusing on the priorities in leading foreign companies and projects, ensuring stability of industrial and supply chains, attracting investment to manufacturing and technological innovation, the task force has joined local governments and line ministries to put forward a list of key foreign investment projects, based on which a group of symbolic projects in the manufacturing sector have been proposed.

Investors in these symbolic projects are mainly Fortune 500 companies in the fields of new energy, new materials, high-end equipment, integrated circuit, bio-pharmaceuticals and other key industries identified in the 14th Five-Year Plan. These industries feature advanced technology and play a strong leading role in development. The full implementation of these symbolic projects will stabilize, expand and improve foreign investment with the manufacturing at its core, enable foreign investment to facilitate scientific and technological innovation and industrial transformation and upgrade, and enhance the stability of industrial and supply chains.

Going forward, the task forces for key foreign-invested projects will do the following things around the new batch of key foreign-invested projects, especially the landmark projects in manufacturing. First, strengthening whole-process tracking. We will mobilize and coordinate local task forces, provide services for key foreign-invested projects throughout the process of contract signing, construction, operation and meeting production goals. Administrative licensing for new projects will pick up speed. Construction of ongoing projects will be guaranteed. We will work toward early implementation and operation of more projects. Second, strengthening services on all fronts. We will enhance coordination with relevant departments and localities at the national and sub-national levels to ensure use of land and energy, financing, and cross-border movement of people for key foreign-invested projects. Third, introducing more potential new projects. We will step up efforts to introduce more foreign-invested projects and support local governments in using their competitive industrial chains to attract investors and projects. We will work toward achieving more intent of investment so that there will be a continued flow of new projects. Thank you.

STCN: According to the latest statistics, there was a decline in total retail sale of consumer goods growth rate year-on-year. What is MOFCOM’s assessment of the growth trend of consumption in the fourth quarter?

Shu Jueting: Since the outset of this year, China’s consumption market has maintained a momentum of recovery and growth on the whole, thanks to the implementation of policies on stabilizing the economy and promoting consumption. From January to September, the total retail sale of consumer goods grew by 0.7% year-on-year, up by 0.2 percentage points from the previous eight months. In breakdown, the total retail sale of consumer goods increased by 3.5% year-on-year in the third quarter, much higher than the second quarter. Final consumption contributed 52.4% to economic growth and 2.1 percentage points to GDP growth. In September, the total retail sale of consumer goods rose by 2.5% year-on-year, showing a continued trend of recovery since June despite the slight decline from August.

We need to recognize that market entities in physical retailing, restaurants and hotels are still faced with challenges due to unexpected factors such as the epidemics. As China continues to coordinate pandemic control and economic development, policies on stabilizing the economy and promoting consumption will deliver more outcomes. Consumption will surely continue to steadily recover. MOFCOM will study and implement in earnest the requirements of the 20th National Congress of the CPC. We will make sure that the implementation of the strategy to expand domestic demand is integrated with our efforts to deepen supply-side structural reform, promote sustained recovery of consumption with multiple measures and shore up the fundamental role of consumption in economic development. Thank you.

MNI: The report to the 20th National Congress points out the China will engage in the global economy at a higher level. Will China be more proactive about joining the CPTPP in the months ahead?

Shu Jueting: China’s decision to officially apply to join the CPTPP on September 16, 2021 has attracted a lot of attention from all parties and received warm responses at home and abroad. It is believed to be a significant move for China to open its door wider in the new era. As we speak, we are engaging in communication and consultations with CPTPP members in accordance with the accession procedure.

CPTPP is a high-standard international trade agreement that covers an extensive range of areas. The high-standard agreement is in line with China’s efforts to further deepen reform and expand opening up. Joining the CPTPP can promote China’s opening up at a higher level, closer engagement in the global economy, reform at a deeper level, and high-quality development. It also helps CPTPP members explore the market of the world’s second largest economy and boost commercial cooperation with China.

To push forward with China’s accession to the CPTPP, we have done thorough and comprehensive research and assessment of the texts and rules of the agreement, and combed through reform measures that might need to be adopted and laws and regulations that may have to be be revised for joining the CPTPP. We strive to fully meet CPTPP standards through continued reforms and stand ready to make a commitment to high-level openness in market access that will go beyond the China’s existing treaty practices. China is willing to work with all parties to advance regional economic integration and push for trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, thereby making contributions to propping up global economic stability and recovery. Thank you.

Reuters: In September, the year-on-year growth rate of China's exports in dollar terms further slowed down. What is your view on China's import and export in the fourth quarter?

Shu Jueting: Since the beginning of this year, under the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, MOFCOM has cooperated closely with local governments and departments, and foreign trade companies have overcome the impact of unfavorable factors. China's foreign trade has shown strong resilience and vitality. In the first three quarters, China's imports and exports reached RMB31.1 trillion, up 9.9% year-on-year. Net exports of goods and services contributed 32% to economic growth, driving GDP growth by 1 percentage point and helping stabilize the macroeconomic fundamentals.

In the fourth quarter, as the momentum of the global economy and trade weakens, the foreign trade environment becomes increasingly complex and uncertainties continue to rise, there is a greater risk of slowing growth in external demand. The WTO’s data shows that the growth rate of global merchandise trade exports dropped from 19.5% in the first quarter of this year to 16.6% in the second quarter. High inflation in some major economies and high commodity inventories further depresses import demand.

Despite the many difficulties and challenges, China's foreign trade still faces enabling conditions for steady growth. Since the second half of the year, the CPC Central Committee and the State Council have increased efforts to stabilize the economy and foreign trade, and supporting policies have been successively introduced and implemented. Practical and effective supporting measures were also introduced by local governments in a timely manner. On the whole, China's foreign trade enjoys an good industrial base. Foreign trade companies has seen greater compliance and innovation ability and closer trade exchanges with the rest of the global market. We will work to maintain reasonable performance of foreign trade, achieve the goal of ensuring stability and improving quality throughout the year, thus contributing to the recovery of the national economy. Thank you.

CRI: The Fifth China International Import Expo (CIIE) will be held next month. What preparations have been done for the Expo and what are the highlights? This year marks the 5th anniversary of the CIIE. What results have been achieved over the past five years?

Shu Jueting: This year marks the 5th anniversary of the CIIE. As the world's first import expo held at the national level, over the past five years, the CIIE has been a major platform for international procurement, investment promotion, cultural exchange and open cooperation and has become a window for a new development paradigm, a carrier for high-level opening and a stage for multilateralism. The Expo has boosted high-quality development of Chinese economy, provided important international public goods for the international community, and contributed to the global economic recovery. It has won wide acclaim at home and abroad and become a truly exceptional international economic and trade event.

The Fifth CIIE is the first major international exhibition held by China after the 20th CPC National Congress. At present, preparations for the business exhibition, the Hongqiao Forum, the country exhibition, people-to-people exchanges and supporting activities have been mostly completed. Among them, the business exhibition will attract high-quality enterprises from across the world, who will bring a large number of high, sophisticated and cutting-edge exhibits. The exhibition of Intelligent Industry and Information Technology will be a focus and the e-CIIE platform will be launched for the first time. It is worth noting that a Special Section of Achievements Show on China’s Opening-up will be set up this year, fully demonstrating the brilliant achievements of China's opening up since the 18th CPC National Congress. Regarding the Hongqiao Forum, the main forum and the High-level Session of “RCEP Spurs Higher-level Opening Up” will continue to be held, the World Openness Report 2022 and the latest World Opening Index will be released, and several sub forums will be held. The online country exhibition entered into trial operation on October 24th, highlighted by digital technology application. The supporting activities and people-to-people exchange activities will also be upgraded and held in new ways.

The 5th CIIE is at the final stage before the opening. We will study and implement the spirit of the 20th CPC National Congress, and prepare conscientiously and meticulously to ensure a full success of the Expo. Thank you.

Yicai: In the first quarter of this year, China-ASEAN trade growth was 1.2 percentage points higher than the previous eight months. How was it achieved amid the grave external environment? What’s the comment of MOFCOM?

Shu Jueting: 2022 saw the launch of the comprehensive strategic partnership between China and ASEAN, and the entry into force of RCEP. China and ASEAN countries have pursued practical measures to promote trade and economic cooperation and ensure sound implementation of RCEP. Bilateral trade manifested sound momentum, strong resilience and enormous potential. In the first nine months of the year, China-ASEAN trade registered RMB4.7 trillion, up 15.5% from a year earlier, accounting for 15.2% of China’s foreign trade in total. China has been the largest trading partner of ASEAN for 13 years in a row, while ASEAN’s status as China’s largest trading partner has been reinforced further.

The close links and interconnected industrial chains and supply chains between China and ASEAN have contributed significantly to global economic development. China will continue to enhance trade and investment cooperation with ASEAN members, maintain security and stability of regional industrial chains and supply chains, and work toward more mutually-beneficial bilateral and regional trade relations.

China News Service: China-EU trade grew by 9% year-on-year in the first three quarters, below the average growth of China’s foreign trade. What’s your take on that and how does MOFCOM view the outlook of China-EU trade?

Shu Jueting: As important trading partners for each other, China and the EU share broad interests and enormous room for cooperation. This year, China-EU trade maintained steady growth and reached RMB4.2 trillion in the first three quarters, despite the impact of Covid-19. China remains the largest trading partner of the EU and the EU continues to be the second largest trading partner of China, fully reflecting the strong resilience and vitality of China-EU trade.

As General Secretary Xi Jinping said at the just-concluded 20th National Congress of the CPC, China will continue to open up with high standards, especially by furthering institutional openness in rules, regulations, administration and standards. An open China will contribute positively to the global economy, and inject new impetus into stronger trade and economic cooperation between China and the EU. To promote healthy and steady trade with the EU, we are ready to share the development opportunities, promote trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, and jointly maintain stable and unimpeded industrial chains and supply chains.

Shu Jueting: Any more questions? If not, this is the end of the press conference. Thank you.

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