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MOFCOM Regular Press Conference (November 2, 2023)

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

The floor is open.

Xinhua News Agency: The sixth China International Import Expo is about to open. Could you talk about the preparatory work and the highlights of this year’s expo?

Shu Jueting: The sixth China International Import Expo (CIIE) will be held in-person from November 5 to 10 in Shanghai. The preparations have basically completed. The highlights are follows:

First, the CIIE will gather friends old and new. This year’s CIIE will be attended by guests from 154 countries, regions and international organizations. The Country Exhibition will host 72 countries and international organizations. The Business Exhibition will host over 3,400 businesses from 128 countries and regions. Nearly 410,000 professional visitors have registered for attendance. The Hongqiao International Economic Forum is expected to receive more than 8,000 participants and over 300 keynote speakers sharing their views during the sessions.

Second, the exhibition will grow in both scale and quality. The Business Exhibition will have a record floor space of 367,000 m2, and nearly 95% of the booths are specially designed. This year’s CIIE also hosts record numbers of Fortune 500 companies, industry leaders and medium and small-sized innovators. The Innovation Incubation Special Section doubles its size from the previous session in terms of floor space and number of projects.

Third, the Hongqiao International Economic Forum will showcase rich elements. Aside from the opening ceremony (main forum) and the “Invest in China Year” Summit, 22 parallel sessions will be organized under the themes of Opening-up for Development, Opening-up for Cooperation, Opening-up for Innovation and Opening-up for Sharing. The World Openness Report 2023 and the latest World Openness Index will be released. Institutions including UNCTAD will also release their professional reports.

Fourth, the CIIE will host diverse activities. Over a thousand on-site activities, including roundtables for foreign-invested enterprises, CEO exhibition tours, and other professional and people-to-people exchange events will amplify the influence of the CIIE.

Besides, we will optimize the logistics, including service station layout, labels and signs, passes, and catering to give everyone a better experience at the CIIE.

We also extend our welcome to our friends from the press for on-site reporting. Thank you.

China Business News: Recently, some U.S. banks, manufacturers and industry associations voiced their concerns to the U.S. Department of Treasury, warning that the executive order signed by President Joe Biden in August restricting investment going to China in certain areas could damage innovation. At the same time, these groups have hoped to lobby for a narrower scope of application. What’s MOFCOM’s comment?

Shu Jueting: The U.S. restrictions on U.S. business investment in China, under the pretext of “national security” and “de-risking”, are practices of “de-coupling” in the area of investment that severely affect normal business operation and decision-making, undermine international trade and economic orders, and disrupt the security of global industrial and supply chains. China has expressed its solemn position previously. Just as the U.S. businesses community has been worried about, the self-imposed restrictions would put U.S. businesses in a disadvantageous position in international competition, block technological advancement, and serve the interest of none.

Viewing others’ development as a threat or taking economic interdependence as a risk will not make one’s own life better or speed up one’s development. We hope that the U.S. would follow through on its commitment of not seeking to “de-couple” from China or halt China’s development, respect the principles of market economy and fair competition, and remove investment restrictions targeting China, to foster a favorable environment for China-U.S. trade and economic cooperation. Thank you.

The Cover: Although the size of foreign direct investment attraction from January to September decreased year-on-year, the quality has improved. What are the measures of MOFCOM in the next step with regard to foreign direct investment attraction and utilization?

Shu Jueting: From January to September this year, the size of China’s foreign direct investment (FDI) attraction, although decreasing year-on-year, was still at a relatively high level compared to the past decade. In particular, the rapid growth of newly established FIEs proves the ongoing enthusiasm of foreign investors in China and reaffirms our confidence in sound FDI attraction in the long run.

At the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, President Xi Jinping announced that China would remove all restrictions on foreign investment access in the manufacturing sector, and further advance high-standard opening-up in cross-border service trade and investment in light of international high-standard economic and trade rules. His remarks chart the course for China’s opening-up and foreign investment utilization. MOFCOM will focus on the following five aspects:

First, expanding foreign investment access. We will work to shorten the foreign investment negative list to a reasonable extent, remove all restrictions on foreign investment access in the manufacturing sector, and expand foreign investment access in modern services. We will do our best to remove hidden barriers and ensure equal access for domestic and foreign investment to areas outside the negative list.

Second, stepping up supporting policies. We will work with relevant authorities and local governments to implement the State Council’s 24-point measures on stabilizing foreign investment, enhance policy promotion, interpretation and training, and continue to roll out implementing rules, to ensure effective enforcement and increase the sense of fulfillment of FIEs.

Third, building “Invest in China” into a shining brand. We will instruct and help local governments in their FDI promotion work. During the sixth CIIE, we will hold an “Invest in China Year” summit, increase investment opportunity and policy promotion, and facilitate business and project matchmaking.

Fourth, building open platforms. We will deepen the national integrated demonstration zone for greater openness in the services sector, move faster to build an opening-up system in the services sector that is aligned with high-standard international trade and economic rules. We will press ahead with innovation and upgrading of national economic and technological development zones and build them into main platforms for stabilizing foreign trade and foreign investment.

Fifth, improving services for FIEs. We will make good use of the special task force for key foreign-invested projects, roundtables for FIEs and the system for collecting and handling FIEs’ issues and requests, as channels to deepen regular exchanges with FIEs and foreign chambers of commerce, find ways to solve their problems, and let FIEs come, stay and flourish. Thank you.

International Business Daily: In-person exhibitions are recovering rapidly. Canton Fair and CIFTIS have been successfully held, and the six CIIE is about to open. Could you please talk about the performance of China’s exhibition industry in 2023?

Shu Jueting: Exhibitions are an important platform for a modern market and an open economy. This year, MOFCOM has worked with local governments and relevant authorities to accelerate recovery and development of in-person exhibitions. In the first three quarters, the domestic exhibition market saw strong demand and surging scale, indicating a full recovery.

According to MOFCOM statistics, from January to September, a total of 3,248 exhibitions were held at domestic professional venues, an increase of 1.8 times from 2022 and 32.4% from 2019. The number of large-scale exhibitions was 1,908, up 2.3 times from 2022 and 56.9% from 2019. The total floor space was 76.86 million square meters, up 1.7 times from 2022 and 51.5% from 2019, which already exceeded the number for the whole year of 2019.

In the next step, MOFCOM will continue to innovate and improve government services, introduce policies boosting high-quality development of the sector at a faster pace, and share good practices, to further optimize the environment for the sector and support high-quality economic development with high-quality exhibitions. Thank you.

Market News International: The White House has announced the upcoming meeting between Chinese and U.S. heads of state. What progress could be made in trade and economic cooperation?

Shu Jueting: On the meeting of Chinese and U.S. heads of state, I refer you to competent authorities. Recently, Chinese and U.S. commerce authorities have maintained close contact. China stands ready to work in the same direction with the U.S. under the principles of mutual respect, peaceful coexistence, and win-win cooperation, to foster an enabling environment for Chinese and U.S. businesses and boost bilateral trade and investment. Thank you.

The Paper: Starting from November 1, the Ministry of Commerce organized a two-month campaign themed on “15-minute community life circle”. What are the specific considerations and plans? In addition, this year is the first year in implementing the Three-year Action Plan (2023-2025) to Comprehensively Promote the Development of 15-minute Community Life Circles. How is the plan going?

Shu Jueting: As you just mentioned, in July this year, 13 central departments, including the Ministry of Commerce, jointly issued the Three-year Action Plan (2023-2025) to Comprehensively Promote the Development of 15-minute Community Life Circles. At present, local authorities across the country are working on its implementation. They have formulated corresponding implementing plans and unveiled support measures. Provinces with appropriate conditions are also running pilot programs. To date, the first three groups of 150 pilot areas have built 2,973 community circles, benefiting about 60 million residents. Through activities such as the “15-minute community circle festival”, we encourage businesses and merchants to reach out to communities to meet residents’ needs, improve the quality of services, and unlock the vitality and potential of convenient community life circles. Focusing on innovation in policies, models and services, we will disseminate the best practices of the first three groups of pilot areas. We will also improve the map of repair shops in the communities, so that residents can quickly find them.

As a specific measure to implement the Three-year Action Plan, the Ministry of Commerce launched a two-month “15-minute community circle festival” from November 1, involving150 pilot areas, promoting the interaction of hundreds of cities and thousands of commercial areas to facilitate people’s life. In terms of the specific plans:

First, we will work to deliver more benefits to people. We will guide local governments as they determine the content and time of activities according to local conditions and policies. We will mobilize retailers, payment platforms and e-commerce enterprises to enter communities and meet the needs of residents by providing discounts and launching group buying activities.

Second, we will make people’s life more convenient. We will encourage quality goods, green and smart home appliances, and home renovation services to enter communities, and organize food festivals and food fairs to make it easier for residents to feel fashion trends, experience quality goods, and taste a variety of cuisines at their doorsteps.

Third, we will work to let residents enjoy better services. We will encourage restaurants and community canteens to provide catering services for the elderly. Communities are encouraged to set up temporary storage sites to provide convenience for residents who need to renovate their homes or move. We will help residents dispose unused items through professional recycling, on-site trading, and donations. We will conduct publicity activities to raise people’s awareness of the importance of recycling, energy saving and green and safe consumption. Thank you.

Reuters: The European Commission has announced plans to strengthen the competitiveness of its wind power industry, including a review of China’s industrial subsidies. Has the EU held any consultations with China on this issue? How does China plan to respond?

Shu Jueting: We have taken note of the development. China and the EU are both committed to promoting green transformation and addressing climate change. In recent years, wind power products produced by Chinese companies have played an important role in accelerating the EU’s green transformation, energy conservation and emission reduction. Deepening cooperation in wind power can deliver mutual benefits, improve people’s well-being and contribute to our collective response to climate change. China believes that trade remedy measures should be used with reason and prudence, and firmly opposes protectionist acts that abuse trade remedy measures. We will closely follow the EU’s next steps. Thank you.

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