Press conference on the financial system's full support for epidemic control and production resumption

A press conference was held Saturday morning to explain the measures being taken by China's financial system to fully support control work for the COVID-19 (also known as novel coronavirus pneumonia) epidemic and production resumption. February 17, 2020


I'm interested in the business entities' resumption of operation and production. Are there policies or measures to support businesses hard hit by the epidemic to resume operation or production? Are there any supporting measures for key businesses which are not related to the prevention and control of the epidemic?

Liang Tao:

Since the outbreak of the epidemic, banking institutions have provided differentiated, targeted, preferential financial services to the hardest-hit areas, industries and enterprises, and offered strong support through credit restructuring and reduction of overdue interest according to specific situations. Banking institutions did not indiscriminately call in loans in advance, cut off loans, or stall on the issuance of loans. Many banks have also introduced policies to reduce loan interest and exempt related charges, and in particular, offered huge support for enterprises involved in the prevention and control of the epidemic. The China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission recently carried out careful research on the impact of the epidemic and formulated policy options. We will shortly roll out new measures, targeting not only industries heavily affected by the epidemic but also all types of enterprises in every industry. 

Next, we will make efforts in several aspects:

First, we will step up efforts to support small and medium-sized private enterprises struggling during the epidemic. We will ensure the overall credit growth of SMEs is not influenced by the epidemic, focusing on complying with the general requirements for offering financial services to SMEs, namely, to increase the amounts, reduce the costs, improve the quality, and expand the coverage of loans granted to said SMEs. We will strive to ensure the comprehensive financing costs of inclusive loans to SMEs will be lower than in 2019. We will also consider the changes to SMEs' financing needs in response to the epidemic and optimize and simplify the procedures reasonably. We will offer the renewal of loans precisely. People have paid increasing attention to the renewal of loans which has helped ease the liquidity squeezes on SMEs. To meet the requirements of the prevention and control of the epidemic, we will continue to implement the related risk management system and the system in which due diligence is fulfilled, responsibility for issuing bad loans can be exempted, and also encourage and motivate grassroots staff to grant loans. This is very important. We will push for banks to appropriately raise tolerances for non-performing loans at local branches that are heavily affected by the epidemic.

Second, we will increase loans to support the resumption of work and production in key areas. Financial institutions will be encouraged to increase loans for enterprises resuming work and production, and raise the proportions of credits and loans issued in the medium and long term while keeping fundraising costs within an appropriate range. We will enhance our support to issue working capital loans at reasonable levels to meet the possible demands of enterprises which need to purchase raw materials and equipment after work has resumed. We will use performance-based evaluation as a baton to lead these institutions to provide support for manufacturers, small and micro-sized firms and privately owned enterprises in key areas during their resumption of work and production. Our performance-based evaluation system will take this aspect into consideration. We will likely adjust the yardsticks in key items of our evaluation system to stimulate the motivation of bank branches and grassroot employees.

Third, we will accelerate the construction of key projects. We will give full play to countercyclical adjustment, making it an increasingly important force under the guidance of financial policies. We will accelerate the issuing of credits, appropriately scale up RMB loans and bonds in 2020, restructure regional credits, center on major programs in key areas and speed up the financing for construction of major projects. We will work out a way to finance key industries such as the manufacturing industry, help speed up the operation of newly invested projects and provide those under construction with sufficient funds.

Fourth, we will make efforts to promote stable household consumption and speed up unleashing potential demand. Banking institutions are urged to satisfy the financial demand of the wholesale, retailing, hotel, catering, tourism, cultural and logistic industries in the hardest-hit areas. They will develop designated financing products to help improve the quality and capacity of service consumption, increase consumption of substantive commodities, expand easy access to services, and speed up the release of potentials in new-type consumption. Thank you.

Xuan Changneng:

I would like to add a few more words. The prevention and control of the epidemic has reached a critical phase. In line with the deployment decisions made by the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, we are now required to ensure the orderly resumption of work and production while preventing and controlling the epidemic under the State Council Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism. The State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) is duty-bound to support the resumption of businesses and production, and to restore economic order.

First, we will open "green channels" for enterprises resuming work and production so that they can enjoy increasingly easy and efficient foreign exchange service. The SAFE will help with various foreign exchange businesses, including overstocked trade and investment during the epidemic, important imports and exports for resumption of work and production, and those foreign exchange businesses attributed to an increasing supply of materials for epidemic prevention and control. The SAFE will direct banks to increase efficiency when coping with these special and urgent businesses, streamline administrative procedures, improve work efficiency, help restore trade and investment as soon as possible, and focus on supporting Hubei and major enterprises in key industries.

Second, we will accelerate the implementation of the 12 measures passed by an executive meetings of the State Council to facilitate trade and investment. Six of them are cross-border trade preferential measures, which consist of expanding trials to promote trade and foreign exchange payments, streamlining procedures of trade in goods for small and micro cross-border e-commerce enterprises and improving methods for foreign exchange business reporting. The other six financing measures comprise of expanding trials to facilitate foreign exchange receipts for capital account transactions, reforming the registration management of foreign debt for enterprises, and lifting restrictions on the number of capital accounts. These preferential measures have effectively saved substantial time and manpower for enterprises in completing the procedures. They have greatly facilitated cross-border trade and financing, improved the business environment and benefited the development of trade, investment and the real economy. Next, based on the actual needs for fighting the epidemic and the resumption of work and production, we will continue to strengthen the implementation of the 12 measures to make them more effective. We will also focus our tasks on the hardest-hit industries and enterprises, in particular, those privately owned, or medium-sized, small and micro enterprises.

Third, by relying on technologies, we will facilitate cross-border trade, investment and financing, and foreign exchange settlements for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). On the one hand, we will mitigate difficulties faced by small and medium enterprises in accessing affordable financing by strengthening the building of a cross-border financing blockchain platform. Last March, China's State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) launched its pilot cross-border financing blockchain platform. By Feb. 3, 2020, the pilot platform had been expanded to cover 22 provinces, regions and cities. Over 170 corporate banks have currently joined the platform on their own accord. The platform has also processed transactions worth $15.9 billion and served nearly 2,500 companies, 75% of which are small and medium-sized enterprises. Since the Spring Festival holiday, the platform has processed 171 transactions worth over $200 million, and served 87 companies. In particular, after Hubei province was included in the pilot platform this January, companies carrying out cross-border business in Hubei, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, will enjoy more preferential treatment and facilitation in export trade and financing services. On the other hand, we will make continued efforts towards simplifying payment procedures for the trade in goods by small and micro cross-border e-commerce businesses, and further facilitate cross-border e-commerce settlements. We will guide banks and payment institutions to provide digital payment services under current accounts for market entities based on trade-related digital information. We will also further facilitate cross-border e-commerce settlements for MSMEs to increase their efficiency.

Fourth, procedures will be improved in handling forex businesses to bring convenience to the people. We will release a guideline for visitors to the online government service portal of the SAFE, making it more convenient for the public to obtain forex-related administrative permits via online channels. Thank you.

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