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Regular Press Conference of MOFCOM (November 24, 2022)

Shu Jueting: Friends from the media, good afternoon. Welcome to MOFCOM’s regular press conference. Today I don’t have any announcement to make and I’d like to take your questions.

The floor is open.

Macao Asian Satellite TV: Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel visited China this week. Could you brief us on the economic, trade and business cooperation between China and Latin American countries including Cuba? Particularly in the post-Covid era, how will China promote the development of bilateral economic and trade relations?

Shu Jueting: Trade and economic cooperation is the ballast and stabilizer of the relations between China and Latin American countries. With strong economic complementarities and huge cooperation potential, China and Latin American countries have achieved remarkable results in trade, investment and project contracting cooperation. Latin America is a natural extension of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, and 21 countries in the region have signed cooperation documents under the Belt and Road Initiative with China. In recent years, our trade and economic cooperation has overcome the adverse impact of the Covid-19, showing strong resilience and development momentum. It has fully recovered and exceeded the pre-Covid level.

Cuba is the first Latin American and Caribbean country in the Western Hemisphere to establish diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China. We have been good friends, good comrades and good brothers. China firmly supports Cuba's economic and social development and fight against Covid-19. China is Cuba's largest trading partner in goods and Cuba is China's second largest trading partner in the Caribbean. It has been actively practicing the Belt and Road Initiative and the Global Development Initiative. The two sides have extensive cooperation in agriculture, renewable energy, biopharmaceuticals, telecommunications, tourism, infrastructure and other areas. In 2021, the bilateral trade between China and Cuba rose by 7.2%. In the first three quarters of this year, bilateral trade continued to grow with China's imports from Cuba up by 18.1%.

The Chinese government has been committed to our bilateral trade and economic relations. It stands ready to implement the consensus of the two Heads of State to bring our trade and economic cooperation to new heights. Thank you.

Shanghai Securities Journal: With the sporadic outbreaks of Covid-19, what measures have been taken by MOFCOM to ensure the supply of daily essentials across the country, particularly in areas seriously affected by the virus?

According to the instructions of the State Council’s Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism, MOFCOM has focused on the following two aspects to contain and prevent the virus on the commercial front and ensure adequate daily supplies:

First, we have fleshed out and improved the measures to respond to Covid-19 and ensure market supply. Based on the Protocol of Control and Prevention for Covid-19 (Edition 9) and the 20 optimized measures for combating Covid-19, we have guided local governments to improve the task forces for guaranteeing daily supplies and adjusted emergency response plans. In the lock-down areas, we have set up reception points for receiving supplies, allocated sufficient personnel for last-mile delivery, and paid special attention to satisfy the needs of the elderly, young, sick and disabled, and pregnant women. So far, all provinces across the country have established task forces for guaranteeing daily supplies and various measures have been taken under the task forces. For instance, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region has revised its Covid-19 response plan to ensure normal operations of key companies that provide daily essentials for the public; Guangzhou Province has amended its plan for ensuring daily supplies to optimize measures of last-mile delivery in lock-down areas; Chengdu City has launched a regional coordination mechanism to guide three major agri-food wholesale markets and the companies providing daily essentials to coordinate their production and sales, in a bid to ensure stable supply.

Second, we have guided local authorities, especially areas seriously struck by the pandemic to ensure adequate supply of daily essentials. We have kept monitoring the quantity and prices of daily necessities on a daily basis, established and improved the traffic-light multi-tier early warning mechanism, strengthened market monitoring and warning so that targeted measures can be taken in a timely manner to forestall emerging and potential problems. We have got a clear picture of the main sourcing channels of all localities and improved the regular regional coordination mechanism. We have released central meat reserves to increase meat supply in the market. In addition, we have collected the problems and challenges in market supply faced by areas seriously affected by the pandemic on a daily basis to be prepared to launch the regional coordination mechanism whenever needed. We have guided the seriously affected areas to follow the effective practices of other localities, urged them to step up efforts in sourcing goods and last-mile delivery, to meet the basic living needs of the public.

So far, the supply of daily essentials across the country is generally adequate. Affected by increased market supply and other factors, prices of daily food supplies have fallen back. As monitored by MOFOCM, on November 23, the grain and oil prices of the 200 large agriproduct wholesale markets remained basically stable; meat prices dropped, with the wholesale price of pork down by 4.8% from early November; the egg prices declined slightly; and vegetable decreased markedly, with the average wholesale price of 30 kinds of vegetables down by 9.3%.

Moving forward, we will intensify our efforts in ensuring market supply in the seriously affected areas, guide local authorities to improve last-mile delivery services, and guarantee the adequate daily supply for the public. Thank you.

China Business News: Last Friday, China’s Minister of Commerce Wang Wentao met with United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai, where they discussed trade issues. Could you brief us on the details of their discussion?

On November 14, the Chinese and US presidents held a successful meeting in Bali, Indonesia, where they had a candid and in-depth exchange of views on the strategic issues of the China-US relations and major global and regional issues. On November 18, Minister of Commerce Wang Wentao met with US Trade Representative Katherine Tai at the latter’s invitation on the margins of the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Bangkok, Thailand.

The heads of the commercial departments of the two governments met in-person after the meeting of Chinese and US Presidents in Bali, and had a candid, professional and constructive exchange of views on issues of shared interests related to China-US trade and economic relations and multilateral and regional trade.

At the meeting, Minister Wang pointed out that the two sides should respect each other, seek common ground while setting aside differences, engage in constructive cooperation, and find concrete path to resolve problems based on mutual trust. Minister Wang raised serious concerns over the US’ trade and investment restrictions on China and over Taiwan-related issues, proposed both sides to consider an open attitude toward initiatives of regional economic cooperation that are open, inclusive and conducive to solidarity. Minister Wang briefed on the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, emphasizing that China will stick to the Chinese path toward modernization, commit to opening-up, keep improving its business environment and pursue peaceful development. The two sides agreed to maintain communication.

China believes that in-person dialogues help deepen mutual understanding and increase coordination. Going forward, we will earnestly implement the important consensus by the two presidents. We hope that the US can work with China to bring China-US trade and economic cooperation back to the track of sound and steady development. Thank you.

Economic Information Daily: Recently China has rolled out policies to attract foreign investments to the manufacturing sector. How’s the general situation in the manufacturing sector? Why is it necessary to support more FDI to the manufacturing sector?

Shu Jueting: China’s utilization of FDI has continued to grow and improve in structure in recent years. Many multinationals have increased investments to China as they are confident in the immense market potential, underpinned by the sophisticated industrial systems, sound infrastructure and stable social environment. A number of foreign-invested manufacturing projects have been implemented rapidly. In 2021, FDI to the manufacturing sector reached USD33.73 billion, up by 8.8% year on year. This year the good momentum is maintained. For example, BASF Zhanjiang Verbund site launched construction; Airbus launched new research center in the Suzhou Industrial Park.

In its 20th National Congress report, the CPC emphasized the need to focus on the real economy and promote high-end, smart and green manufacturing sector. Attracting FDI to the manufacturing sector is critical to its transformation and further integration into the global industrial chains and supply chains. Upon approval of the State Council, the Ministry of Commerce and other departments have published Several Measures to Increase, Stabilize, and Enhance the Quality of FDI to the Manufacturing Sector, 2022 Catalogue of Encouraged Industries for Foreign Investments, among other documents, to create a market-based, law-based and international business environment for multinationals to invest and prosper in China. The Several Measures outlines 15 specific measures to ensure the implementation of post-establishment national treatment against high standards, provide quality financial services and support to FIEs, and support the import and export activities of FIEs in the manufacturing sector. The 2022 version of Catalogue has 1,474 entries, up by 20% from the 2020 version, including many entries on high-tech manufacturing. In the Catalogue of Competitive Industries in Central and Western China, entries on processing trade were added to sharpen the competitiveness of central, wester, and northeastern China in attracting FDI.

Going forward, the Ministry of Commerce will continue to implement the instructions of the 20th CPC National Congress, and work with local authorities to implement the policies. First, we will scale up efforts in policy publicity and interpretation. We will hold seminars for policy explanation and seminars with the businesses to publicize the policies to stabilize foreign investment, including the above-mentioned measures and the catalogue, so that the FIEs can gain a better understanding. Second, we will strengthen guidance to the local commercial authorities and request them to publish implementing documents in line with their local conditions, so that the policies and measures can be properly implemented and deliver benefits. Third, we will give full play to the role of the special task force on major foreign-invested projects under the coordination mechanism for foreign trade and investment. We will work with related authorities to solve problems and provide better services for the business community. Thank you.

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

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