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MOFCOM Regular Press Conference (April 27, 2023)

Shu Jueting: Members of the press, good afternoon. Welcome to MOFCOM regular press conference. Let me first share with you a piece of information.

First, on the 5th Brand and Quality Online Shopping Festival

To implement the guiding principles of the 20th CPC National Congress and the decisions of the Central Economic Work Conference and firmly pursue the strategy to expand domestic demand, following the arrangements for 2023 Consumption Revitalization Year events, from April 28 to May 12, MOFCOM will work with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the State Administration for Market Regulation, the State Post Bureau, China National Intellectual Property Administration and China Consumers Association in organizing and guiding related e-commerce businesses to hold the 5th Brand and Quality Online Shopping Festival.

As a branded online promotion event, the festival has effectively promoted brand and quality consumption and witnessed the common development of China’s e-commerce and big market since its launch in 2019. Carrying forward the principle of government guidance, business initiative and market-oriented operation’, this year’s festival will feature four main themes, namely, new consumption, pro-farm digital commerce, virtual fair of Central Asian goods, and ASEAN offerings. Specifically, new consumption will focus on innovative consumption scenarios, foster new consumer brands and create new digital lifestyle. Pro-farm digital commerce will explore online sale of agro-products and promote quality brands in the countryside. The festival will also deepen digital innovation cooperation with Central Asia and ASEAN and create more silk road virtual brands through special online sections and livestreaming to help specialties of Central Asia, ASEAN and Silk Road E-Commerce partner countries access the Chinese market and meet consumers’ dual expectation for brand and quality.

The launching ceremony of the 5th Brand and Quality Online Shopping Festival will be held in Hangzhou today. During the event, the localities will hold specialty side events under one logo, such as the Online Shopping Festival for Central Asian Specialties of Shaanxi, Shop ASEAN of Guangxi, and Virtual Overseas Shopping via Silk Road E-Commerce of Shanghai. I encourage you to follow these events.

That’s the information I want to share with you upfront. Now I’d like to take your questions. The floor is open for questions.

CRI: We’ve noted that the 133rd Canton Fair is underway in Guangzhou. Could you share with us the highlights and features of this session?

Shu Jueting: Today is the last day of the 2nd Session of the 133rd Canton Fair, which showcases daily consumer goods, presents, and home decorations, among other light industrial products. Nearly 12,000 companies take part. As of closing on April 26, the fair registered 815,000 visits with US$4.5 billion in export deals. This session is new in the following ways.

First, low-carbon and environmental protection have become new bright spots. The online platform of the session displays 250,000 green and low-carbon products, accounting for a half of the fair’s total. Exhibitors have brought many low-carbon and environmental products, such as everlasting flowers made of natural plants and crop wastes, tableware made of potatoes, and straws made of natural bamboo fibre, which are very popular with buyers. A single order exceeds US$ 1 million for some products, which is no small feat in the light industry. This also speaks to Chinese business’ growing commitment to green, environmental-friendly and low-carbon development.

Second, research and innovation have become new drivers. This session features many products from traditional labor-intensive industries. Exhibitors have accelerated the transition and upgrade of traditional industries through innovative ideas, better design, enhanced technology and enriched cultural elements. The online platform showcases 400,000 new exhibits, including 110,000 items with proprietary intellectual property. 73 new product launches were held around household goods consumption. Some exhibitors say that for companies, the Canton Fair is not only a stage, but also a school. Besides, concurring with the 23rd World Intellectual Property Day, this session also runs a unified on-line and on-site IP compliant handling system to maintain a good trading order.

The new themes have created new opportunities. To respond to industry development, the Phase 2 exhibition of the 133rd Canton Fair has set up a new section for maternity, baby and children products with 501 booths and 382 participating companies. Many companies said the exhibition was far beyond their expectations, or even better than the results they had achieved before the pandemic. As of April 26 which was the fourth day into the Phase 2 exhibition, the turnover volume of the section for maternity, baby and children products reached USD110 million.

Fourth, the hybrid form of the Canton Fair has become a new feature. As of April 26, a total of over 390,000 buyers had participated in the exhibition online, among which 91% (or over 360,000 buyers) were from abroad. Many foreign buyers said although they couldn’t make it to Guangzhou to join the Fair in-person due to transport or holiday reasons, yet they could look for opportunities of cooperation at the online platform. Some on-site buyers said that they couldn’t visit all booths within 5 days, but still they could get the product information from the online platform.

At the first two phases of the 133rd Canton Fair, a host of new products were released, a number of new orders were signed and many new friendships were created. The Phase 3 exhibition, which is scheduled to last from May 1 to 5, will focus on textile and clothing, shoes, office supplies, cases and bags, recreation products, food, medicines and health products. We welcome buyers from all over the world to join the Fair, and more coverage on the event by our friends from the media. Thank you.

China Business News: Last month, DEPA’s China Accession Working Group (AWG) held the first round of consultation. Could you brief us on the progress of the consultation?

The first technical consultation of China AWG of DEPA was held online on March 28. China had an in-depth discussion with DEPA members on such provisions as paperless trading, domestic electronic transactions framework, logistics, electronic invoicing, express shipments and electronic payments. Moving forward, China will continue such consultations with DEPA members under the AWG mechanism on topics such as digital products, data governance and digital inclusion. Thank you.

National Business Daily: Recently, the General Office of the State Council issued the Opinions on Stabilizing the Scale and Optimizing the Structure of Foreign Trade. We have noted that MOFCOM, the PBOC and the GACC held a policy briefing on April 23 to introduce the efforts to be made to stabilize the scale and optimize the structure of foreign trade. What steps will be taken by MOFCOM to implement the Opinions?

In the current complex situation where China’s foreign trade still confronts multiple challenges, the State Council has worked vigorously to put forward the Opinions on Stabilizing the Scale and Optimizing the Structure of Foreign Trade in timely manner. Following the decisions by the CPC Central Committee and the State Council and in view of both current and longer-term needs, we will take a problem and result-oriented approach, make all-out efforts in the pursuit of a stable scale and improved structure of foreign trade by maintaining steady export, increasing import, and promoting innovation.

First, ensuring full implementation of the policies. MOFCOM will work with local governments and line ministries to further promote and explain the policies, so that these policies could bring greater benefits to foreign trade companies in an more efficient manner. In addition, we will keep a close eye on how the environment evolves and timely address companies’ pressing concerns by diving deep into the problems they may encounter. We will fully leverage the role of major trading provinces to stabilize foreign trade, and encourage local governments to introduce measures suitable for their own conditions so as to forge a policy synergy.

Second, maintaining a stable scale of export. We will improve our trade environment and smooth the channels through which companies secure orders and expand business. We will promote other countries to facilitate visa application by our business travelers, and support people from China’s foreign trade companies in using the APEC Business Travel Card to travel to other economies for supply-demand matching. We will publish trade guidelines on relevant countries, ensure stable exportation to developed economies, and guide our companies to make inroads into the markets of developing countries, ASEAN and other regions. We will also give further support to automobile companies to establish and improve their global marketing service system as part of an effort to foster automobile export strengths.

Third, actively expanding imports. We will support the import of advanced technology, important equipment and key parts and components, and promote the adjustment, optimization and upgrading of industrial mix to ensure the stable operation in all steps of bulk commodity import and increase the import supply of energy resources products and agricultural produce. We will continue to leverage the role of China International Import Expo(CIIE), China International Consumer Products Expo and the import exhibition area of Canton Fair, amplify the spillover effect of various exhibitions, step up the entry of more high-quality goods into China, and let the world share the opportunities in the Chinese market. We will open more demonstration zones for creative promotion of import trade and promote the in-depth integration of import trade with industry and consumption.

Fourth, promoting innovation and development. We will guide localities in developing "cross-border e-commerce+industrial belt" in light of local conditions and promote more featured products in entering the international market. Based on the new characteristics and trends of cross-border e-commerce, we will optimize and adjust the evaluation indicators, and guide the comprehensive pilot areas in optimizing the development environment and enhance the level of innovation through such evaluations. We will guide trade associations in formulating green and low-carbon standards for foreign trade products, and support related products to explore the international market. Thank you.

China News Service: Recently, it was reported by foreign media that the United States asked ROK chip makers not to fill the market share originally held by the United States in China. What's the comment of the Ministry of Commerce?

Shu Jueting: The development of the chip industry chain benefits from a much globalized world and division of labor and cooperation among countries based on comparative advantages. In recent years, the United States has continued to generalize the concept of national security, abused export control and other measures, even at the expense of its allies' interests, coerced some countries to take trade protection measures against China, and artificially worked for the decoupling and severing of industrial supply chains. The U.S. approach represents typical technological bullying, which seriously interferes with normal economic and trade exchanges between enterprises, undermines market rules and international economic and trade order, and threatens the security and stability of the global industrial and supply chains. China firmly opposes that.

We have noticed that the revenue and profits of enterprises engaged in chip production and supply chains in relevant countries have been greatly reduced recently, and the promotion of decoupling and severing of industrial supply chains by the United States is an important cause. Some commented that the US is pursuing its own interests at the expense of others. We call on the governments and businesses concerned to consider their own long-term interests, jointly defend the rules of free trade, and jointly build a safe, stable, smooth, efficient, open, inclusive and mutually beneficial system for global industrial and supply chains. Thank you.

Shanghai Securities News: This year is the Consumption Revitalization Year, and the Ministry of Commerce said that there will be themes for each quarter, exhibitions for each month and consumption scenarios for each weeks. What are the thematic activities to promote consumption in the second quarter, and what activities to promote consumption will be organized in various localities during the May Day vacation?

Shu Jueting: The Ministry of Commerce thoroughly implemented the decisions and arrangements of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, designated 2023 as the "Consumption Revitalization Year" and organized a series of events to promote consumption. Up to now, we have organized two major thematic activities, the consumption season in Spring and the National Consumption Promotion Month, launched the National Online Shopping Event for Spring Festival, Shopping Festivals for time-honored brands and Chinese Cuisine, and other special activities, and launched 16 consumption scenarios such as "Green, Fashionable and Beautiful Residence" and "Quality Life". At the same time, we have helped localities and related industry associations hold a series of colorful consumption promotion activities. According to incomplete statistics, more than 28,000 consumer promotion activities have been carried out nationwide, involving more than 400,000 enterprises.

In the second quarter, the Ministry of Commerce will organize more thematic activities, such as green consumption season and international consumption season, hold special events such as online shopping festivals for brand and quality products, and launch 13 consumption scenarios such as "beautiful countryside with a leisure life" and "brand and quality consumption". Various localities will also hold a series of activities according to local conditions to promote steady recovery of the consumer market. For example, Tianjin will hold the green consumption season and the second shopping festival for quality life; Liaoning will hold the green consumption season and relevant events to optimize the consumption environment; Ningxia will hold a "Book Festival" and a shopping festival of diversified products to bring benefits to the people; Chongqing will launch the 2023 China (Chongqing) International Consumption Festival on April 28; and Shanghai will launch the fourth "May 5 Shopping Festival" in sync with the "2023 International Consumption Season" on April 29. These activities will continue after the May Day vacation, and I believe they will add more vitality to the consumer market during the vacation.

In the next step, the Ministry of Commerce will continue to organize thematic activities such as the summer consumption season and the autumn shopping festival in accordance with the overall arrangements of the Consumption Revitalization Year, so as to accelerate the recovery and upgrading of the consumer market and better meet people's needs for a better life. Thank you.

CNBC: I have two questions. First, how much consumption has been driven by new energy vehicles? What role have NEVs played in the growth of import and export? How many new foreign investments are related to NEVs? Second question, it is reported that the US will take measures to restrict investment to China. Does MOFCOM have any comments? What measures will be taken in response?

Shu Jueting: On your first question. In recent years, NEVs have become an important driver to auto consumption. At home, NEV sales reached 1.586 million, up by 26.2% in the first quarter of 2023, accounting for 26.1% of new auto sales. NEVs continue to be a highlight in the auto consumption market.

Globally, demand for NEVs continue to grow. In the first quarter, China’s NEV export reached USD9.55 billion, taking up 44.7% of auto export, driving total export by 0.6 percentage points.

In terms of foreign investment, since China removed the equity cap for NEV complete car manufacturing in 2018, new paid-in investments to the industry has reached RMB15.69 billion. In recent years, as China’s NEV consumption market continues to grow, foreign investors have seized the opportunity to scale up investments in China. In 2022 and the first quarter of 2023, FDI to NEV complete car manufacturing grew by 138.7% and 179.1%, providing an important driver to the FDI growth in the manufacturing industry.

As to the second question, we noted the report. It is a typical non-market practice to use administrative means to interfere with and restrict normal business decision-making. It is against the fundamental international trade rules to impose discriminatory restrictions against a specific country. If the report is found true, China will strongly oppose such practice.

The US has repeatedly expressed the willingness to engage in healthy competition with China, rather than seeking decoupling. We hope the US can live up to its words by complying with international trade rules, respecting the right of businesses to conduct normal investment and trade activities, and achieving progress and win-win results through healthy competition. China will closely watch the development of the situation, and will remain firm in defending our interests. Thank you.

Xinhua News Agency: Resuming physical exhibition is an important way to help businesses secure orders. Can you share with us the resumption of physical exhibitions in the first quarter?

Shu Jueting: This year, in response to the decisions and plans of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, MOFCOM has timely adjusted the management requirement for foreign-related economic and technological exhibitions to resume physical exhibitions. Sub-national commerce authorities have also developed supportive policies that fit their local conditions. MOFCOM statistics show that exhibition activities have recovered swiftly across the country. In the first quarter of 2023, 540 exhibitions have been held in China’s professional exhibition halls, 3.3 times more than the same period last year. The exhibition area reached 10.311 million m2, 2.3 times more than the same period last year. There were 286 exhibitions that cover over 10,000 m2 exhibition areas, accounting for 53%, 5.7 times more than the same period last year. If you look at the themes, digital economy, new energy vehicles, one health, and food are among the themes that grow the fastest. By region, exhibitions resume rapidly in Beijing, Shanghai, Liaoning, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen.

Going forward, MOFCOM will work with local authorities to improve policies and measures that can promote the development of the exhibition industry, encourage innovations in the management mode and service models of exhibitions, so that the exhibition industry can recover rapidly and realize high-quality development. Thank you.

Shu Jueting: If there are no more questions, this is the end of the press conference. The Labor Day holiday is around the corner. I wish you all happy Labor Day holiday.

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