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MOFCOM Regular Press Conference (June 24, 2021)

Gao Feng: Friends from the media, good afternoon. Welcome to MOFCOM’s regular press conference. Since I don’t have any announcement to make, we may proceed directly to the Q&A session. The floor is open.

Economic Information Daily: We know that the second China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo will be held in Hunan in September. Could you brief us on the overall arrangements of the Expo and the progress in the preparatory process?

Gao Feng: China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo is one of the important measures under the eight major initiatives of China-Africa cooperation announced by President Xi Jinping at the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, and an important platform for China to carry out economic and trade cooperation, exchanges and dialogues with African countries. The second China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo will be held in Changsha, Hunan Province from September 26 to 28 this year. It will be held both online and offline, and the main exhibition hall will be located at Changsha International Convention and Exhibition Center.

The theme of this Expo is "New Start, New Opportunity, New Action". The six African countries of Algeria, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa and Senegal will be the countries of honor, and Zhejiang and Jiangxi will be the provinces of honor.

The Expo will be composed of three parts: conferences, exhibitions and meetings. The first part is the opening ceremony and China-Africa Economic and Trade Cooperation Forum, which will be attended and addressed by political dignitaries from China and Africa, heads of international organizations, and business leaders. The second part is various forums, symposiums and business meetings centering around the priority and emerging areas in China-Africa trade and economic cooperation, such as food and agricultural produce, pharmaceuticals and healthcare, infrastructure, and finance. The third part is exhibition. The planned area for physical exhibition is 64,000㎡, including exhibitions of guests of honor, African brands, commercial products, Chinese provinces and cities, the fruits of China-African trade and economic cooperation, case studies of China-Africa trade and economic cooperation, and pioneering areas of in-depth China-Africa trade and economic cooperation. Up to now, in addition to the six guest countries of honor, businesses from 28 African countries and 34 Chinese provinces and cities have confirmed participation. During the Expo, we will also hold African brands shopping festival, African coffee and coffee championship, African products live stream festival, online business matching activities. These events will give Chinese businesses and consumers a better taste of specialty and quality goods from Africa.

For more African businesses to participate, the Expo will offer funding support to the eligible African companies, and provide volunteer service to those who will send their products for exhibition but cannot make it to the site. We will also provide free online exhibition platforms so that the Expo can continue after the physical exhibitions are over.

MOFCOM will join forces with the Hunan provincial government and other members of the organizing committee to make sound preparations with regard to guests invitation, business and exhibitor recruitment, conference organization, and epidemic control. We will work to make the 2nd China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo a successful expo, one that will inject strong impetus to elevated and results-oriented China-African trade and economic cooperation.

Shanghai Securities Daily: The foreign investment negative lists for nationwide application and for Pilot Free Trade Zones were published on June 24th last year. When will the 2021 version negative lists come out? How are things going and which areas will be opened further?

Gao Feng: The Chinese government has revised the foreign investment negative lists for nationwide application and for Pilot Free Trade Zones for four consecutive years since 2017, reducing the number of special administrative measures from 93 and 122 to 33 and 30, rolling out significant opening-up measures in finance and automobile industries. Easing market access for foreign investment has pushed forward opening-up and boosted confidence of foreign investors.

According to the plan of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, MOFCOM and NDRC have jointly launched the revision of the negative lists to produce a 2021 version, and have broadly collected inputs and comments from various stakeholders. Currently we are working with related departments to study the inputs and comments received, and will move forward more swiftly. Thank you.

Sansha Satellite TV: We noted that a considerable part of the Hainan Free Trade Port Law is about trade and investment facilitation and liberalization, which is also a preoccupation of the Ministry of Commerce. We would like to know how MOFCOM and Hainan province will implement the policies in detail?

Gao Feng: Trade and investment facilitation and liberalization is an important element in the Hainan Free Trade Port Law, and one of the priorities in the development of the Hainan Free Trade Port. 14 articles in Chapter two and Chapter three of the Hainan Free Trade Port Law lay out provisions on trade and investment facilitation and liberalization. In terms of trade facilitation and liberalization, “free flow through the first line and effective control at the second line” is established as the regulatory approach for goods. The Law spells out that the Hainan Free Trade Port shall administer cross-border services on the basis of a negative list, and accord the same treatment to domestic and foreign cross-border service providers outside the negative list. In terms of investment facilitation and liberalization, streamlined approval system are rolled out across the board. The investment promotion and protection system are improved, and property protection is intensified. Foreign investment negative list and special measures for easing market access are applied. Credit-based filing will be gradually introduced.

Moving forward, guided by the Hainan Free Trade Port Law, MOFCOM will act according to the requirements of the Master Plan for the Construction of Hainan Free Trade Port to move faster towards policy implementation in order to fully leverage policy effects, introduce a negative list of cross-border trade in services of Hainan Free Trade Port, improve the regulatory environment of the importation and exportation of goods, and step up promotion of policies and regulations on foreign investment. In addition, we will support Hainan in instituting relevant regulations on trade, investment and administrative activities in accordance with the Hainan Free Trade Port Law. Thank you.

Phoenix TV: We’ve noted that MOFCOM just released a piece of information on its website, saying that China is challenging Australia at the WTO concerning Australia’s anti-dumping and countervailing duty measures imposed on three kinds of Chinese products. Could you brief us on this issue? Are there any specific considerations behind this complaint?

In 2019, Australia adopted or extended anti-dumping measures on railway wheels and wind towers imported from China, and in 2020 extended anti-dumping and countervailing duty measures on deep drawn stainless steel sinks imported from China. In these three cases, Australia determined that the dumping and subsidizing practices had violated the Anti-Dumping Agreement and the SCM Agreement of the WTO.

The WTO is now faced with unprecedented challenges. China opposes any abuse of trade remedy measures, for it not only hurts the lawful interests and rights of Chinese companies, but also undermines the seriousness and authoritativeness of the WTO rules. We hope that by filing a complaint against Australia’s relevant anti-dumping and countervailing duty measures through the DSM of the WTO, we can both protect the lawful rights and interests of Chinese companies and uphold the multilateral trading system and the authoritativeness and effectiveness of the WTO. We hope that Australia can take concrete actions to correct the wrong actions, avoid distorting trade of relevant products, and bring the trade of these products back to the normal track. Thank you.

21st Century Business Herald: On June 23 local time, the Department of Commerce of the U.S. announced to put on the Entity List of export control five Chinese entities that have so-called been involved in “forced labor”. How does MOFOCM comment on that?

The so-called “forced labor” in Xinjiang is totally contrary to facts. The U.S. once again used state power to exercise protectionism and bullying in the name of the so-called “human rights”, which has seriously undermined the international trade and economic order and threatened the security of global industrial and supply chains. The U.S. should immediately correct its wrong actions. We will take necessary measures and resolutely safeguard the lawful rights and interests of Chinese companies and agencies. Thank you.

CCTV: We’ve noted that Chief Executive of the HKSAR Carrie Lam recently said that Hong Kong has sufficient conditions to join the RCEP. Does MOFCOM support Hong Kong in joining the RCEP? Will MOFCOM set any plan for it?

We will actively support Hong Kong in joining the RCEP as early as possible according to the RCEP provisions on new member’s accession. Thank you.

China Business News: In response to the strong trend of RMB appreciation recently, will MOFCOM take any measures to help mitigate the impacts on foreign trade companies?

Since the beginning of this year, driven by multiple factors including the pandemic, the RMB exchange rate has experienced ups and downs. In the recent research, we have found that fluctuations of the exchange rate, compounded by rising prices of raw materials and impeded logistics have affected the production and operation of some foreign trade companies.

Following the instructions of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, MOFCOM has worked with the PBOC and SAFE to push financial institutions to keep improving products and services aimed to avoid exchange rate risks, promote the Manual on Exchange Rate Risk Aversion for Enterprises Engaged in Foreign Trade and Economy, and provide enterprises with targeted training sessions on risk aversion. Recently, the three departments jointly held a national online training programme of exchange rate risk aversion. Relevant courses are available on MOFCOM’s website. We will keep watching the developments of the exchange rate and help foreign trade companies tackle the fluctuations. Thank you.

The Cover: Statistics recently published by MOFCOM show that trade of used vehicles was vibrant from January to May, with 6.907 million used cars traded nationwide, up 60.9% year-on-year. MOFCOM and other ministries have also promulgated new facilitative measures. How have these measures played out so far? What’s MOFCOM’s outlook on China’s used vehicle market?

Gao Feng: MOFCOM is working with relevant authorities to accelerate the development of the used vehicle market, with our focus on removing importation limitations, facilitating trade, promoting information openness and sharing, and exploring innovative modes of circulation.

From January to May, 6.907 million used cars were traded nationwide, up 60.9% from 2020 and 22.9% from 2019. The ratio of used vehicle sale to new vehicle sale increased from 0.55 in 2019 to 0.64 this year, which means that the used vehicle market is more prominent in the domestic car market. Internationally, that ratio is normally over 1.5. China’s car ownership now stands at 287 million. As the growth curve of China’s car market starts to flatten, upgrading purchases are taking up a larger share among all car purchases. This points to the huge demand and market potential of used vehicle trade, which will become a main driver for the car market.

To implement the decisions of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, MOFCOM will, in the next step, work with relevant authorities to enable the transition from purchase-oriented administration to usage-oriented administration for cars and other bulk consumer goods, push for the removal of unreasonable limitations on used vehicle trade, and move faster to implement inter-provincial registration of used vehicle trade. These complementary policies and measures for the circulation of used cars, by making used car trade even easier, will tap into the potential of used vehicle consumption, boost car consumption across all links, and move our car market faster towards high-quality development. Thank you.

Shenzhen TV: Shenzhen’s Yantian International Container Terminal (YICT) was recently hit by congestion of container ships due to Covid-19 response measures. How has the congestion affected international trade? Will China take actions for YICT’s swift reopening?

In general, the impact of the congestion on our foreign trade is limited and under control. In the next step, we will continue to enhance coordination with other authorities and local governments to stabilize foreign trade and ensure unclogged international logistics. Thank you.

AFP: G7 has set a global minimum corporate tax rate of 15%. What’s China’s view on this plan? Will China consider backing it or supporting it?

Gao Feng: Related authorities are working on this issue. Thank you.

Gao Feng: Do you have any more question? If not, this is the end of today’s press conference. Thank you.

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