SCIO press conference on commerce work, operations in H1 2023

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According to recent data, in the first half of the year, China's consumer market achieved a stable and rapid recovery. However, the rebound in big-ticket items such as home furnishings and appliances remains insufficient. What measures will be taken in the next step? Thank you.

Xu Xingfeng:

Thank you for your question. The topic is a common concern for many people. In the first half of this year, total retail sales of consumer goods increased by 8.2% year-on-year. Everyone has high expectations regarding how to sustain the positive momentum in consumption and stabilize the demand for big-ticket item such as household appliances, home furnishings, and automobiles. The meeting of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee emphasized that restoring and expanding demand is key to maintaining and motivating the current economic recovery. Next, MOFCOM will diligently implement the deployments and decisions made by the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, continue to integrate the strategy of expanding domestic demand with deepening supply-side structural reform, and enhance policy coordination and working collaboration, deepening the level of implementation. We will focus on the following four aspects:

First, we will focus on optimizing the consumption environment and implementing more detailed policies. As I introduced earlier, the State Council and related departments have issued a series of policies around promoting consumption, so the next step is to "cultivate and flourish." This means that these policies that have been issued can actually be transformed into results. As you mentioned just now, the household consumption policy covers a wide range, including home appliances, furniture, home decorations, home textiles and housekeeping. Yesterday, we held a policy briefing here to introduce the relevant implementation considerations.

In addition, as discussed and reviewed by the executive meeting of the State Council last year, MOFCOM and 17 other departments have issued policies and documents on boosting the circulation of automobiles and expanding automobile consumption, many of which are currently in progress. Responding to the issue of "mileage anxiety" concerning NEVs, MOFCOM, based on its own responsibilities, is working with other departments to actively improve the charging infrastructure. For example, on the premise of ensuring safety, we are encouraging the installation of charging facilities in gas stations and parking lots of shopping malls, supermarkets, shopping centers and so on where conditions allow. These policies form a cohesive approach to stabilize and expand automobile consumption. In addition, we will carry out in-depth investigations and studies, enlarge policy reserves and enrich our policy toolkit in light of changes to the current consumer market, and promote the introduction of policies at the appropriate times.

Second, we will focus on cultivating a vibrant consumption atmosphere by continuously organizing engaging consumer events. The Year of Consumption Promotion which we just introduced has now entered its second half when policies should be implemented with further precision and various activities should be conducted well and effectively. Nationwide, the "Home Refresh Consumption Season" will serve as a major promotion to harness people's enthusiasm toward all kinds of household furnishings. On July 12, we launched the "Summer Consumption Season" in Chongqing, which is now in full swing. In September, we plan to launch the "Golden Autumn Shopping Festival." Subsequently, there will be the CIFTIS and the CIIE, which everyone is aware of, following one after another. At the local level, we will continue to mobilize the enthusiasm of local governments to initiate tailored and captivating consumption promotion activities in accordance with local conditions, to build a unique "one place, one product" brand and enhance the effectiveness and influence of activities.

Third, we will focus on improving consumption conditions and refining the business system. The business system affects the convenience of consumption, and we will start with both urban and rural areas. In cities, we will cultivate and construct international consumption hubs, revitalizing and elevating pedestrian streets, developing smart shops and business circles, expanding the coverage of "15-minute community life circles," and promoting the development of distinctive neighborhoods. In rural areas, we will implement a three-year plan for county-level commerce, cultivating a batch of leading commercial counties at national level, upgrading and renovating a number of township business centers and establishing new rural convenience stores.

Fourth, we will prioritize innovative consumption scenarios and cultivate consumption hot spots. At present, various new forms and models of the consumer market are flourishing. It is vital to guide innovative development, as laid out in the "three integrations." The first integration involves merging business models. The boundaries between specialty stores, professional stores, shopping malls and supermarkets have become less clear now, and shopping centers now offer diverse elements and functionalities. The second integration revolves around cross-border collaboration. By synergizing business, travel, culture, sports and health, we aim to create more immersive, experiential and interactive consumption scenarios. The third integration focuses on merging online and offline aspects of commerce. We will support the healthy development of "instant retail" and livestream e-commerce to extend and expand into the offline world. This approach aligns with current trends and aims to promote the provision of digital and intelligent services among traditional businesses.

That's all from me. Thank you.

Shou Xiaoli:

Thank you, Mr. Xu for your answers, and thank you to everyone from the press for attending. That's all for today's press conference, goodbye.

Translated and edited by Wang Qian, Wang Yiming, Liu Sitong, Cui Can, Duan Yaying, Yuan Fang, Wang Yanfang, Liu Qiang, Liu Caiyi, Ma Yujia, Li Huiru, David Ball, and Jay Birbeck. In case of any discrepancy between the English and Chinese texts, the Chinese version is deemed to prevail.

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