SCIO briefing on China's commerce work, operations in H1 2021

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Guo Tingting, head of the Comprehensive Department of the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM)

Zhu Xiaoliang, head of the Department of Market Operation and Consumption Promotion of the MOFCOM

Li Xingqian, head of the Department of Foreign Trade of the MOFCOM

Zong Changqing, head of the Department of Foreign Investment Administration of the MOFCOM


Xing Huina, deputy head of the Press Bureau of the State Council Information Office (SCIO) and spokesperson of the SCIO


July 22, 2021

Xing Huina:

Friends from the media, good afternoon. Welcome to this briefing held by the State Council Information Office (SCIO). Today's briefing will introduce China's commerce work and operations in the first half of 2021, followed by questions from the media. Today, we are joined by Ms. Guo Tingting, head of the Comprehensive Department of the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM); Mr. Zhu Xiaoliang, head of the Department of Market Operation and Consumption Promotion of the MOFCOM; Mr. Li Xingqian, head of the Department of Foreign Trade of the MOFCOM; and Mr. Zong Changqing, head of the Department of Foreign Investment Administration of the MOFCOM.

Now, let's give the floor to Ms. Guo.

Guo Tingting:

Thank you. Friends from the media, good afternoon. I'll start by briefly introducing the overall statistics. 

Since the beginning of this year, under the strong leadership of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, the MOFCOM has grounded its work in the new stage of development, applied the new development philosophy, and contributed to fostering a new pattern of development. Three new guiding principles have been put forward for China's commerce work, which include making commerce work a key part of the domestic economic circulation, turning it into a key joint linking domestic and international economic circulation, and giving full play to its role in establishing a new pattern of development. In accordance with these new guiding principles, the MOFCOM is sparing no effort to promote the dual circulation development pattern while ensuring the smooth flow of domestic circulation. Generally speaking, in the first half of this year, China's commerce work has seen rapid growth, achieved stable performance, and moved in a positive direction. New progress has been achieved in the high-quality development of commerce work, and new contributions have been made to the sustainable and sound growth of the national economy.

First, domestic consumption continues to pick up. In the first half of 2021, China's retail sales of consumer goods totaled 21.2 trillion yuan, up 23% year on year. Its two-year average growth stood at 4.4%. Final consumption expenditure contributed to 61.7% of economic growth, which reflected its prominent role as a "stabilizer." The consumption of commodities rebounded significantly. From January to June, the retail sales of commodities increased by 20.6%, of which, spending on automobiles, cosmetics, and gold, silver and jewelry increased by 30.4%, 26.6% and 59.9%, respectively. Service consumption recovered at an accelerated pace as it accounted for 52.5% of household consumption, up 3.2 percentage points. Catering revenue basically recovered to pre-pandemic levels. New types of consumption boomed. From January to June, China's online retail sales reached 6.1 trillion yuan, up 23.2% year on year. Shipments of 5G smartphones increased by 100.9%. Offshore duty-free sales in Hainan province increased 3.7 times. We have effectively ensured supply and price stability, strengthened the market surveillance and early-warning system, and adjusted meat reserves. The supply of daily necessities was sufficient, and prices were generally stable. China's Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 0.5% in the first half of 2021.

Second, foreign trade posted rapid growth. From January to June, China's total imports and exports of goods reached 18.1 trillion yuan, up 27.1% year on year. Exports and imports grew by 28.1% and 25.9%, respectively. The two-year average growth of total foreign trade in goods, exports and imports stood at 10.8%, 11.3% and 10.3%, respectively. The vitality of market entities was enhanced significantly. The number of enterprises with actual foreign trade business reached 479,000, up 8.1% year on year. The imports and exports of private enterprises increased by 35.1%, which is 8 percentage points higher than the overall growth of foreign trade. New business forms and models developed at an accelerated pace. The imports and exports of cross-border e-commerce increased by 28.6%. Market procurement exports grew by 49.1%, and there were more than 1,900 overseas warehouses. China's trade with its major trading partners registered rapid growth. Its imports and exports to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the European Union (EU), and the U.S. increased by 27.8%, 26.7% and 34.6%, respectively. Its foreign trade with countries along the Belt and Road increased by 27.5%. The commodity structure of China's foreign trade was further optimized. Exports of mechanical and electrical products increased by 29.5%, accounting for 59.2% of the total export volume. Specifically, the exports of automobiles, machine tools and home appliances grew by 101.4%, 39.6% and 35.8%, respectively. Trade in services saw innovative development. From January to May, the total imports and exports of trade in services reached 1.9 trillion yuan, up 3.7%; the imports and exports of knowledge-intensive services accounted for 46.4% of the total amount.

Third, substantially more foreign investment was utilized. In the first half of 2021, foreign direct investment (FDI) into the Chinese mainland, in actual use, surged 28.7% year on year to 607.84 billion yuan. Its two-year average growth stood at 12.7%. The number of enterprises also increased rapidly. More than 23,000 foreign-invested companies were set up, representing an increase of 47.9% and bringing the total number of foreign-invested firms to over 1.06 million. The composition of foreign investment was further optimized. FDI into China's manufacturing industry, in actual use, increased by 9.9%, the highest growth rate over the same period in a decade. FDI into China's service sector, in actual use, grew by 33.4%. Foreign investment from major source regions saw stable growth. Investment from countries along the Belt and Road, ASEAN countries and the EU increased by 49.6%, 50.7% and 10.3%, respectively. Actual investment from China's Hong Kong, Singapore, the Republic of Korea and Germany increased by 35.5%, 53.6%, 29.9% and 32.4%, respectively. The exemplary role of opening-up areas became rather prominent. FDI into 21 pilot free trade zones, in actual use, amounted to 100.88 billion yuan, attracting nearly 17% of the country's total amount of FDI with less than four thousandths of the country's land area. Newly established foreign-invested firms and the actual use of FDI in the Hainan Free Trade Port increased 4.9 times and 6.7 times.

Fourth, outbound investment cooperation was stable and orderly. In the first half of this year, non-financial direct investment decreased by 3.7% year-on-year to 348.83 billion yuan, (equivalent to $53.9 billion, up 4.7%). Investment cooperation within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) was deepened. The investment into countries along the Belt and Road grew by 8.6%, up 2 percentage points to 17.8% of total outbound investment. The investment structure continued to improve. Investment into information technology, scientific research services and the transportation sector jumped by 26.8%, 74.2%, and 98.7%, respectively. The level of cooperation was steadily upgraded. The turnover of overseas contracted projects increased by 3.2% to 439.76 billion yuan. The number of newly signed projects worth more than $50 million went up by 6% to 404. Win-win cooperation was fully demonstrated. By the end of the first half of this year, overseas economic and trade cooperation zones had invested $47 billion accumulatively, paid about $6 billion in taxes and fees to host countries, and created 380,000 local jobs.  

Next, the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) will continue to follow the guidance of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, and adhere to the decisions and plans of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council. We will comprehensively promote consumption, improve the modern circulation system, advance high-level opening-up to the outside world, firmly stabilize the overall performance of foreign trade and foreign investment, actively participate in global economic governance, and accelerate efforts to interlink markets, integrate industries, promote mutual innovation and connect rules, so as to better serve the fostering of a new development paradigm.  

That's all for my introduction. Thank you.

Xing Huina:  

Thank you for your briefing, Ms. Guo. The floor is now open for questions. Please identify your news outlet before asking your question.

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