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The 2021 Report on Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises’ Export (B2B) Index jointly released by the Commercial Sub-Council of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade and XTransfer suggests that Chinese MSMEs engaging in foreign trade will perform as well as they did in 2021. How do you comment on these companies’ performance so far this year? What measures are adopted by MOFCOM to help MSMEs cope with the uncertainties caused by the pandemic and the high costs of raw materials and commodities?(2022-03-24)

The CPC Central Committee and the State Council have attached great importance to the sound and sustainable development of MSMEs engaging in foreign trade. Since Covid-19 broke out, a range of policy measures have been introduced to improve the production and operation environment for MSMEs. Since the beginning of this year, despite the uncertainties and destabilizing factors of the pandemic, the changing international landscape and impeded sea transport, China’s foreign trade still got off to a steady start. Nevertheless, based on our surveys on certain localities, MSMEs are faced with challenges in securing orders and honoring contracts.

In response to their difficulties on the ground, MOFCOM has fully implemented the decisions by the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, worked with relevant departments to formulate supportive policies, joined forces to help MSMEs prevent risks, lower costs and enhance vitality. Specifically, in terms of risk prevention, MOFCOM and SINOSURE jointly released a Circular to further support MSMEs with export credit insurance by expanding insurance coverage, lowering insurance costs, optimizing claim settlement regimes and upgrading credit standing services. Regarding cost reduction, we have closely cooperated with the State Administration of Taxation to accelerate the export tax rebate process, improve rebate services, and further alleviate companies’ financial burden. Regarding increasing vitality, we have encouraged financial institutions to enhance their credit support for foreign trade companies, especially for MSMEs, in a law-abiding and risk-controllable manner. Recently, we have also released the Circular on Using the Service Trade Innovation and Development Guidance Fund to Support the Development of New Trade Models and Patterns, encouraging localities to fully leverage the Service Trade Fund and other direct financing instruments, and promoting financial credit insurance institutions to work with the Service Trade Fund to innovate financial services to address the financing difficulties of export-oriented SMEs.

Going forward, MOFCOM will focus on the following efforts to ease the difficulties of micro, small and medium foreign trade firms. Firstly, we will work with related departments and local authorities to implement the package of policy measures introduced last January to ensure stable, smooth industrial and supply chains for foreign trade. Secondly, following the unified plans of the State Council and together with line ministries, we will guide local authorities in optimizing business environment, implementing measures to cut taxes and fees, and continuing to address such issues as the imposition of arbitrary charges and fines with a view to supporting the steady development of foreign trade enterprises. Thirdly, we will guide firms in diversifying imports, enhancing international cooperation, and fostering mutually-beneficial channels for trade in raw materials.

In short, we will take a package of measures to tide foreign trade firms over external uncertainties with policy certainty and help them overcome difficulties and achieve steady, sustained development.