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MOFCOM Regular Press Conference (May 25, 2023)

Shu Jueting: Friends from the press, good afternoon. Welcome to MOFCOM regular press conference. Since I don’t have any announcement to make today, we can proceed directly to the Q&A session.

The floor is open.

Shanghai Securities News: The first China-Central Asia Summit was held on May 18 and 19 in Xi’an. What achievements have been made on trade and economic fronts? What measures will be taken to promote trade connectivity between China and Central Asian countries?

Shu Jueting: The China-Central Asia Summit is the first diplomatic event hosted by China this year, which is of great practical and historical significance. The Summit concluded with a series of important trade and economic outcomes. MOFCOM established a ministerial-level meeting mechanism with Central Asian countries’ ministries responsible for trade and signed multilateral cooperation documents on deepening trade and economic cooperation, digital trade and infrastructure and project construction, fully demonstrating the firm resolve of all parties in building a closer China-Central Asia community with a shared future.

In order to promote trade and economic cooperation with Central Asian countries, we will focus our work on the following six areas.

First, development of new forms of trade. We will continue to leverage the bilateral and multilateral cooperation mechanism including the China-Central Asia Meeting of the Ministers of Economy and Trade and seek to enhance the quantity and quality of practical cooperation between China and Central Asian countries. We will encourage construction of overseas warehouses and support Central Asian businesses in selling quality products on the China market via Chinese e-commerce platforms.

Second, continued empowerment by innovation. We will conduct digital trade with Central Asian countries, push for alignment of rules, mutual recognition of standards and digital infrastructure connectivity, share experience in artificial intelligence, big data and 5G, and pursue digitization at a quicker pace so as to jointly create new prospects for digital trade cooperation.

Third, security and stability of regional industrial and supply chains. We will advance development of cross-border infrastructure, step up cooperation on oil, gas and new energy minerals and push forward construction of cross-border pipelines. We will deepen agricultural cooperation and import more quality agricultural products from Central Asia.

Fourth, cooperation within the multilateral framework. Committed to true multilateralism, China stands ready to strengthen collaboration with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan within the WTO framework and support Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan in joining the WTO at an early date. Thank you.

Yicai: The Group of Seven leaders said in a joint statement that they are not looking to decouple from China but are seeking to de-risk. What’s MOFCOM’s comment?

Shu Jueting: We hope G7 members can deliver on what they’ve said about not seeking decoupling from China. It won’t work when they claim “not seeking decoupling” while suppressing and curbing China’s development by abusing restrictive measures on trade and investment. China has always been a stabilizer and driver of the world economy in a responsible way. China brings the world cooperation, not confrontation, opportunities, not risks. To shut out China under the pretext of de-risking is to throw away cooperation and opportunities.

China plays an important role in ensuring the stability of global industrial and supply chains and remains committed to working with all countries as a trust-worthy trading partner and a cooperative partner for win-win outcomes. China will continue to open up at a higher level and benefit the whole world with its high-quality development. We call on all countries to jointly oppose unilateralism, protectionism, bullying and economic coercion as well as decoupling and fragmenting industrial and supply chains and to keep the global industrial and supply chains stable and open and promote world economic recovery and development. Thank you.

Global Times: During Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin’s visit to China, what specific trade issues were discussed? In which areas will the two sides strengthen commercial cooperation?

Shu Jueting: Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin has paid a successful visit to China recently. During his visit, the China-Russia Business Forum co-hosted by the Ministry of Commerce of China and the Ministry of Economic Development of Russia was successfully held in Shanghai with the active participation of enterprises from both sides and good results. The two ministries signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Deepening Cooperation on Trade in Services, agreeing to strengthen cooperation in the fields of tourism, sports, transportation and medical care, and to continuously enhance cooperation in trade in services. Going forward, MOFCOM, together with relevant departments, will work with the Russian side to implement the important consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries and take positive measures to consolidate traditional commodity trade, expand cooperation in agriculture, trade in services, digital economy and green development, optimize the trade structure, enhance facilitation and promote the quality and quantity of China-Russia economic and trade cooperation. Thank you.

Reuters: Commerce Minister Wang Wentao is expected to meet with US Commerce Secretary Raimondo in Washington and USTR Ambassador Katherine Tai in Detroit this week. Will Minister Wang also meet with Treasury Secretary Yellen or other senior US officials?

Shu Jueting: On May 25 and 26, Minister Wang Wentao will travel to the US for the APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade Meeting. During the trip, he will have meetings with US Commerce Secretary Raimondo and USTR Ambassador Katherine Tai. The Chinese side will have exchanges with the US side on Sino-US economic and trade relations and issues of interest for the two sides. Thank you.

The Paper: Recently, MOFCOM and other departments jointly printed and released the 2023 Work Priorities for Upscaling the Quality and Capacity of Domestic Service, proposing the special initiative for domestic service standardization and promoting the introduction of a number of national, industry, local and group standards. How is related standard-setting progressing? What are MOFCOM’s considerations for further regulating the industry for higher quality and greater capacity?

Shu Jueting: Standardization is a key lever for improving the quality of domestic service. MOFCOM is advancing the process actively with focus on the supporting and guiding role of standards. So far, nearly 300 national, industry and local standards have been announced nationwide, covering segments like elderly care, mother and child care and hour service.

Based on prior work, we will work with related departments, actively promote the implementation of the special initiative for domestic service standardization, and guide related bodies to formulate the Norm for Home Cooking Service, the Norm for Housecleaning Service and the Norm for Baby and Child Care, among other standards, to further improve the domestic service standardization system. Meanwhile, local standard-setting will be encouraged to serve as benchmarks and businesses guided to actively participate in pilots of the standardization initiative to foster a host of standard front runners for domestic service providers.

As for your second question, MOFCOM will work with members of the joint ministerial session on upscaling the quality and capacity of domestic service to implement the work priorities of 2023 and concretely promote the industry’s upscaling of quality and capacity

First, we will lead the operation to upskill domestic workers. Online and on-site training resources will be consolidated to provide free training for domestic workers. The training hours and results will be included in their credit files. We will also work with related departments to strengthen professional development and foster and reserve more talent for the industry for its improved quality.

Second, we will continue the operation to help farmers through domestic service. We will guide localities to improve the working mechanism for matching supply with demand and encourage origins of domestic workers to connect with service providers. Meanwhile, innovative online recruitment sessions will be held, including the ‘domestic service recruitment season’ on short video platforms, to address the pain points of domestic worker shortage and expand the capacity of the industry.

Third, we will keep upgrading the domestic service credit information platform to strengthen credit information sharing. Online training and evaluation functions will be added to the domestic service credit app, which will be connected to skill training databases of related departments, so that consumers can access basic information and employment and training profiles when hiring domestic workers and be informed and assured. Thank you.

Kyodo News:I have three questions. First, it has been reported that Minister Wang Wentao will hold talks with Commerce Secretary Raimondo and USTR Ambassador Katherine Tai in the US. What are the contents and purpose of the talks? Second, did Minister Wang discuss the CPTPP with Australian trade minister at their meeting? What is Australia’s approach? Third, China’s Cybersecurity Review Office has halted purchases from Micron. How will this affect the semiconductor trade?

Shu Jueting: Regarding your first question, like I said earlier, Minister Wang will have separate meetings with Commerce Secretary Raimondo and USTR Ambassador Katherine Tai in the US. The Chinese side will have exchanges with the US side on Sino-US economic and trade relations and issues of interest for the two sides.

As for your second question, on May 12, the trade ministers of China and Australia co-chaired the China-Australia Joint Ministerial Economic Commission in Beijing and had candid, professional and comprehensive exchanges on economic and trade issues of interest for the two countries. Currently, China is engaged in communication and consultation with CPTPP members according to CPTPP accession process.

For your third question regarding the cybersecurity review of Micron’s products in China according to law, China’s authorities have made the announcement. The review is a necessary measure to safeguard China’s national security. I want to emphasize that the Chinese government is committed to high-level opening up, keeps improving its business environment and would like to share China’s development opportunities with the rest of the world. Companies, products and services of all countries are welcome in the Chinese market so long as they abide by Chinese laws and regulations. Thank you.

China News Agency: The analytical data of German Economic Institute recently showed that Germany’s direct investment in China is increasing despite a tightening international environment. According to the Institute's estimates, Germany’s direct investments in China grew by a larger margin in 2022 than in the years from 2016 to 2020. What’s the comment of MOFCOM?

Shu Jueting: China and Germany are important trading partners for each other. China has been Germany's top trading partner for seven consecutive years. Germany is China's top trading partner, the biggest source of foreign investment and an important investment destination in Europe. According to Chinese statistics, Germany’s investment in China reached USD2.57 billion in 2022, up 52.8% year-on-year. Major foreign-invested projects include BMW's capital increase in the joint venture, BASF's integrated production base in Zhanjiang, Audi’s new energy vehicles facilities in Changchun, which are proof that German enterprises are optimistic about the prospect of long-term development in China.

Against the background of sluggish global economic recovery, deeper economic and trade cooperation between China and Germany is in the fundamental interests of the two countries and peoples and will also contribute to the recovery of the world economy. The Chinese government will remain committed to expanding high-standard opening-up and will continue to create a market-oriented, law-based and international business environment. China welcomes more investments from German businesses in China to explore the Chinese market. We also hope that Germany can provide a fair, just and non-discriminatory business environment for Chinese enterprises that invest and operate in Germany, and promote open and practical cooperation between the two countries. Thank you.

Zhejiang Daily: Since this year, China's auto exports maintained a high growth rate. Some institutions expect China to become the world's largest auto exporter this year. What further initiatives will the Ministry of Commerce take to promote the export of Chinese auto brands?

Shu Jueting: In recent years, China's auto exports have been steadily improving, and the product structure continues to be optimized. First, the scale of trade is gradually expanding. In 2021 and 2022, the increase of auto exports were more than 1 million. From January to April this year, China's auto exports reached 1.494 million, up 76.5% year-on-year. Second, the export market is increasingly diversified. In the first four months, China’s auto were exported to 204 countries and regions around the world, including exports to Belt and Road partner countries worth 13.64 billion U.S.dollars, an increase of 1.2 times, accounting for 45.9%; exports to developed economies reached 12.41 billion U.S. dollars, an increase of 1.2 times, accounting for 41.8%. Third, new energy vehicles contributed an important part to the growth. From January to April, the share of new energy vehicles in total export value reached 42.9%, contributing 51.6% to the growth of auto exports.

At present, China's auto export has entered a stage of rapid growth, but there is still more room for improvement in terms of quality and efficiency. There are some difficulties in terms of transport security, financial services, overseas after-sales services. In the next step, the Ministry of Commerce will work with relevant departments to focus on the following three aspects: First, to strengthen transport security, promote medium to long-term strategic cooperation between auto enterprises and shipping enterprises, encourage shipping companies to speed up the construction of roll-on roll-off fleet to expand the car export capacity. Second, we will encourage auto enterprises to work with domestic and international financial institutions to ensure compliance, risk-control, and develop innovative financial products and services to better meet the needs of enterprises. Third, we will support auto enterprises in improving international marketing and after-sales service system, enhance their ability to carry out brand promotion, display, sales, overseas after-sales service, and establish a good brand image. Thank you.

Bloomberg: My first question is that the Ministry of Commerce issued a statement on Tuesday about Japan's export control measures, making clear that China will reserve the right to defend its legitimate rights and interests. Can you explain in more detail? What kind of measures will the Ministry of Commerce possibly take? What exactly will these measures be? The second question is that the Chinese Ambassador to Australia said last week that China has proposed to set up a working group to discuss with Australia China's accession to the CPTPP, but Australia has not yet responded. Can you confirm this news and give us more details this proposal?

Shu Jueting: Regarding your first question, we noted that the Japanese government officially introduced export control measures on 23 types of semiconductor manufacturing equipment on May 23, which is an abuse of export control measures and a serious deviation from free trade and international economic and trade rules. Such a move will seriously harm the interests of Chinese and Japanese enterprises, seriously damage the economic and trade cooperation between China and Japan, and disrupt the security and stability of the global semiconductor industry chain and supply chain. China is firmly opposed to this.

Japan should make efforts to defend international economic and trade rules and economic and trade cooperation with China, immediately correct the wrong practice, prevent the relevant initiatives from hindering the normal cooperation and development of the semiconductor industry between the two countries, and maintain the stability of the global semiconductor industry chain supply chain. China will reserve the right to take measures to resolutely safeguard its legitimate rights and interests.

Regarding the second question, as I have said, China is communicating and consulting with CPTPP members according to the joining procedures. Thank you.

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