Shu Jueting: Friends from the press, good afternoon. Welcome to MOFCOM’s 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.
China News Service: The State Council issued a document on replicating and scaling experience of the 7th batch of pilot programs in the pilot free trade zones. Could you give a briefing on this?
Shu Jueting: As President Xi Jinping has reiterated, innovation in institutions is a core task for pilot free trade zones, with replicability as the basic requirement. PFTZs need to produce more replicable and scalable outcomes in institutional reform. MOFCOM has followed through the decisions and plans by the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, worked together with relevant ministries and local governments to take stock of and summarize good practices and experience in PFTZs and prepared to roll out these experiences nationwide.
The State Council has recently issued a document on rolling out nationwide or in certain regions the 24 pilot measures in PFTZs, involving investment and trade facilitation, administration innovations, financial openness and innovation, high-quality industrial development and IP protection. The document is available on the official websites of the Chinese government and MOFCOM. You are welcome to check it online.
Some of these measures are about facilitation at higher levels that can effectively enliven the market. Some explore new business models to better meet the demands of market entities. Some can reduce institutional costs and intensify protection of legitimate rights and interests by optimizing dispute settlement. Rolling out these practices will make the business environment even better, invigorate markets, and deliver the benefits of reform and opening up to all.
Next, MOFCOM will act on the plans of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, continue to explore different positions and features of local PFTZs, summarize and scale new outcomes that work effectively with manageable risks in a timely manner so that the PFTZs can yield more fruits at a larger scale. Thank you.
ThePaper: WTO members concluded the negotiations on the text of the Investment Facilitation for Development (IFD) Agreement recently. What does MOFCOM make of the Agreement? What benefits will the deal bring to China?
Shu Jueting: The negotiations on investment facilitation are an important attempt to bring WTO rules up to date. The successful conclusion of the negotiations and the IFD Agreement fully demonstrate that, against the backdrop of the multiple challenges to economic globalization, WTO members are able to stand united and work together to address global challenges, and that multilateral trade rules are able to keep abreast of the times and respond in a timely manner to the expectations and demands of the business community.
The IFD Agreement is the world's first multilateral investment agreement, which aims to enhance the transparency of countries’ investment policies, simplify investment approval procedures, strengthen international cooperation in the field of investment and promote smoother global investment flows. Against the backdrop of sluggish global economy, weakening demand and slowdown in investment, the conclusion of the Agreement will play a positive role in improving the global business environment and enhancing the confidence of global investors. According to calculations by relevant organizations, the Agreement, if successfully put into effect, could bring up to $1 trillion in economic benefits to the world.
It is worth noting that of the more than 100 participants in the negotiations, over70 are developing members, including China, Brazil, Indonesia, Cambodia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. The fact that the negotiations were initiated by developing members, who also put forward and co-sponsored two thirds of the proposals, fully demonstrates that the promotion of investment facilitation is in line with the trend of the times and the needs of the economic development of the members, especially the developing one, and that the developing members have already become an important force in international rule-making.
As a major country in attracting foreign capital and outward investment, China is a leading initiator of investment facilitation. The conclusion of the Agreement is conducive to China's efforts to open up to the outside world at a high level. It will enable China to benchmark against international high-standard economic and trade rules, create a first-rate business environment that is market-oriented, internationalized and based on the rule of law, attract more foreign-funded enterprises to come to China, and promote high-quality development. Moreover, the Agreement will drive the cost of cross-border investment for Chinese enterprises down, so that they can actively participate in the BRI cooperation, and work with all parties to deliver mutual benefits and win-win results. Thank you.
CNBC: It is reported that U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo will visit China in the near future. What is China's response to this? Can you share more details with us?
Shu Jueting: China remain open to and welcome Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo's visit to China, and is in touch with the U.S. on the visit. China will continue to work to resolve each other’s concerns on economy and trade through dialogue and communication and promote constructive and pragmatic cooperation. Thank you.
Economic Information Daily: Recently, the Ministry of Commerce and other 12 departments issued the "Three-year Action Plan (2023-2025) for Comprehensively Promoting the Development of 15-minute Community Service Circles". Could you brief us on its background and the main measures in the above documents?
Shu Jueting: What we usually call the urban 15-minute community service circle refers to the community business circle gathering multiple business formats serving community residents, with a radius of about 15 minutes' walk and the goal of meeting the needs for basic and quality consumption in residents' daily life.
Promoting the development of urban 15-minute community service circles is an important task deployed by the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, and it is also an important channel for safeguarding and improving people's livelihood, and restoring and expanding consumption. Since 2021, the Ministry of Commerce, together with the relevant departments, has selected 80 cities in two groups and launched a pilot program to build urban 15-minute community service circles. By the end of June this year, 2,057 community service circles had been built in pilot cities, involving 450,000 commercial outlets and directly serving 42.01 million community residents.
At the same time, there are still some weak points in some urban communities, such as unreasonable layout of commercial outlets, outdated facilities, traditional business formats and simple services. In this regard, the Ministry of Commerce, together with relevant departments, studied and promulgated the "Three-year Action Plan (2023-2025) for Comprehensively Promoting the Development of 15-minute Community Service Circles". According to the principles of "pilot program-driven, guidance by typical examples and comprehensive promotion", MOFCOM has summarized and rolled out the experience from the previous pilot programs, promoted the development of urban 15-minute community service circles in stages, and strived to fully promote the service circles in cities above the prefecture level where conditions permit by 2025, so that this measure benefiting the people could serve more communities and residents.
We will speed up the work in four aspects: First, we should pay attention to the needs of the people, turn the residents' list of needs into a list of projects according to the principle of "providing people with what they are missing", and take the evaluation of residents' satisfaction as the "gold standard" for evaluating and measuring the effectiveness of the work. Second, we should pay attention to local conditions, adhere to the principle of "implementing city-specific policies, with tailored policies for each circle", build 15-minute community service circles covering different levels and categories, build one convenience store and one breakfast shop, ensure that there is one grocery store and one repair shop, and offer old-age and child care for each community to help improve the quality of life of residents. Third, we should pay attention to overall planning and coordination, align the development of 15-minute community service circles with other community work, strengthen policy integration, and make joint efforts. Fourth, we should pay attention to strengthening supporting measures, and improve the convenience and quality of the consumption by community residents for daily needs through such supporting measures as putting resources into use, increasing financial support, and optimizing the business environment. Thank you.
Kyodo News agency: Australia expressed disappointment at China's extension of the review of the anti-dumping and countervailing measures on Australian barley for one month. What's China's response? What is the reason for the extension by China?
Shu Jueting: In April this year, China and Australia held friendly consultations on the dispute over the anti-dumping and countervailing measures on Australian barley under the framework of the WTO and reached a consensus, which reflected the spirit of mutually beneficial cooperation. At the request of relevant domestic industries, the Ministry of Commerce initiated a review of anti-dumping and countervailing measures on Australian barley and actively promoted the review procedure. At present, the investigators have disclosed the basic facts on which the ruling is based to the relevant interested parties according to the statutory procedural requirements, and they are collecting comments from all parties. The investigators will make an objective and fair ruling and issue an announcement in accordance with law by taking the opinions of all parties into consideration. We are ready to work with Australia to continue to properly resolve economic and trade concerns in the spirit of dialogue, consultation and cooperation and jointly promote the development of bilateral economic and trade relations. Thank you.
International Business Daily: From July 3 to 5, the fourth round of negotiations on the China-Nicaragua FTA was held in Managua, the capital of Nicaragua. Both sides agreed to work together to strive to complete the negotiations before the end of July. Could you brief us on it?
Shu Jueting: China-Nicaragua FTA negotiations started in July 2022, so far, four rounds of negotiations have been held. From July 3 to 5, the fourth round of negotiations was held in Nicaragua. Wang Shouwen, China International Trade Representative and Vice Minister of Commerce, and Jesús Bermúdez, Nicaraguan Minister of Development, Industry and Commerce, led the respective delegations of the two countries in conducting in-depth consultations on topics such as trade in goods, cross-border trade in services, financial services and temporary entry of business persons, and making positive progress. At present, the teams of both countries are stepping up their work and striving to complete the negotiations before the end of July.
The economies of China and Nicaragua are highly complementary and there is great potential for trade and investment cooperation. On May 1 this year, the early harvest arrangement of China-Nicaragua FTA came into effect and achieved good results. The signing of a comprehensive free trade agreement between China and Nicaragua will help further deepen economic and trade cooperation between the two countries and lay a solid foundation and add momentum to the sustained development of China-Nicaragua relations. Thank you.
Shenzhen TV: The Japanese government has announced that the new regulation on the export restriction of semiconductor manufacturing equipment will take effect on July 23. When Minister Wang Wentao met with Yohei Kono, president of the Japanese Association for the Promotion of International Trade, did they discuss this issue?
Shu Jueting: On July 4, Minister Wang Wentao met with the JAPIT delegation, led by president Yohei Kono. They had an in-depth exchange of views on topics such as China’s reform and opening-up policy, China-Japan trade and economic relations, cooperation in emerging areas, stability of industrial chains and supply chains. For greater details, you can check the press release.
For some time, certain countries have used trade and economic issues as a political tool under a generalized concept of national security. In the semiconductor industry, they have deliberately undermined the link with China, which will greatly harm the interests of businesses of our countries, damage the win-win cooperation that the industry fostered over the years, and disrupt global industrial chains and supply chains. We hope Japan can honor its commitment to free trade and market economy and adhere to international trade rules, as part of an effort to safeguard its own interests and bilateral trade and economic cooperation more broadly. It’s important to refrain from political interference with the bilateral trade and economic cooperation, which will only restrict the normal and independent operation of businesses and fair competition. Thank you.
Reuters: China urged the US to take concrete actions to address the grave concerns of Chinese businesses over sanctions during the visit of Treasury Secretary Yellen. What actions does China expect? Could you share more details of China’s requests?
Shu Jueting: In recent years, the US has put many Chinese companies on various sanction lists under the pretext of issues involving national security, human rights, Xinjiang, Iran, Russia, and fentanyl. China is strongly opposed to such practices that harm the legitimate interests of Chinese companies. We request the US to immediately stop the unjustified suppression on Chinese companies, lift the unilateral sanctions, and instead, inject positivity into bilateral trade and economic cooperation.
Macau Monthly: On July 10, the 7th China-Russia was held in Yekaterinburg, Russia. Could you brief us on the expo?
Shu Jueting: From July 10th to 13th, the 7th China-Russia Expo, co-hosted by the Ministry of Commerce of China, the People's Government of Heilongjiang Province, the Ministry of Economic Development and the Ministry of Industry and Trade of Russia, was held in Yekaterinburg, Russia. With the theme of "New Drivers for China-Russia Pragmatic Cooperation", this year's expo had five exhibition sections: modern agriculture, local cooperation, connectivity, service trade, and quality life. With a record exhibition area of over 10,000 m2, the expo attracted more than 300 businesses from 20 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities from China. During the expo, the two sides held a number of business events such as the third China-Russia Local Cooperation Forum, and the China-Russia Trade and Investment Symposium in the New Era, providing Chinese and Russian businesses with valuable opportunities to discuss cooperation in energy, agriculture, forestry, industry, transport, culture. Thank you.
Yicai: At the recent meeting of the WTO Trade in Goods Council, China and other 11 Members reiterated their concerns over the EU’s CBAM. What’s the comment of MOFCOM?
Shu Jueting: we noted that following the adoption of CBAM legislation last May, the EU will publish draft implementing rules to invite public comment. China and the EU have engaged in several rounds of communication under the multilateral trading system. China urges the EU to open a long enough window for public opinion, and fully consider the concerns and inputs of WTO members and stakeholders to ensure the legislation complies with WTO rules.
CBAM has long been the concern of WTO members. Many members said the measures are against the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities under the UNFCCC, expressed worries over the unilateral measures the EU insists on, and raised questions about whether they are compatible with the WTO rules. A few members, including China, requested to strengthen multilateral supervision and thematic discussions on these measures. In the next step, China will continue to take a proposal-driven approach and work with all parties to push for discussions on CBAM and other policies and measures for green trade. It’s important to make sure these measures are WTO consistent, and avoid creating new trade barriers. Thank you.
Bloomberg: Following UK’s official accession to the CPTPP this weekend, do you expect China’s accession application to be processed next, as China was the second applicant after the UK?
Shu Jueting: You may check my answers to questions relating to the CPTPP in the press conference last week. At present, China is engaged in communication and consultation with CPTPP members according to its accession procedure. Thank you.
(All information published on this website is authentic in Chinese. English is provided for reference only.)