SCIO briefing on efforts to coordinate COVID-19 control with economic, social development

The State Council Information Office held a press conference on Monday morning in Beijing to introduce the efforts being made by various government departments to coordinate the prevention and control of the COVID-19 epidemic with continued economic and social development. February 25, 2020

Phoenix TV:

With regard to the foreign trade, how great an impact does the outbreak on imports and exports? What measures will be taken to reduce such impact? What will be done to stabilize foreign trade throughout the year? Thank you.

Ren Hongbin:

Thank you for your question. As one of the three driving forces of economic growth, foreign trade is highly valued by the CPC Central Committee and the State Council and is of wide concern. The impact of the coronavirus outbreak on foreign trade is currently temporary and short-term. China's foreign trade is highly competitive with strong resilience, especially shown in enterprises' innovative ideas and the ability to explore markets. Therefore, the long-term positive trend of the foreign trade will not change.

Since the outbreak, the Ministry of Commerce has resolutely implemented the policy decisions and plans of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, guided the national business system to monitor the foreign trade operation so as to take targeted measures in helping enterprises. As we all know, foreign trade enterprises are facing several external factors including the difficulties in taking orders and fulfilling their contract obligations, poor international logistics and the increase of trade barriers in addition to the common problems facing domestic enterprises, both of which make the foreign trade situation even more complicated and severe.

In order to help enterprises resume work and production so as to guarantee their ability to accept orders, fulfill their obligations and maintain their market share, the Ministry of Commerce has introduced 20 policies aimed at coping with the outbreak to stabilize foreign trade and foreign investment and promote consumption, and also issued the Notice on Promoting Orderly Resumption of Work and Production in Business Enterprises on the Premise of Effectively Preventing the Epidemic. The Ministry of Finance, State Taxation Administration, the Financial and Tax Department, the People's Bank of China, the General Administration of Customs and China Export and Credit Insurance Cooperation have also developed various supportive policies. Meanwhile, a total of 16 local governments including the provinces of Guangdong, Zhejiang, Henan and Gansu have taken measures to help foreign trade enterprises to pull through. Foreign trade enterprises have taken the initiative to prevent the epidemic affecting their business and ensure early resumption of their operations. So far, foreign trade provinces and provincial city including Guangdong, Jiangsu, Beijing and Sichuan have seen a quick resumption of work. In Zhejiang province, 90% of businesses valued more than $10 million have resumed their operations. For instances, Yiwu city of Zhejiang province has met the targeted needs of transporting holidaying employees back to their base by using charter flights, trains and buses in order to achieve rapid resumption of work and production. With regard to financing difficulties, many local governments have introduced practical and effective policies. In Suzhou, for example, the import and export bank has been encouraged to offer bailout funding in an innovative way. As deputy-governor Chen mentioned, import and export banks have been supported by the central government to increase lending to help out foreign trade enterprises. The Shandong government has introduced timely policies and measures to encourage enterprises to participate in foreign exhibitions and explore international markets.

Next, by thoroughly implementing the guiding principle of the meeting of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and following the spirit of the important speeches made by General Secretary Xi Jinping at the Work Deployment Meeting on Promoting Prevention and Control of COVID-19 Outbreak and Socio-Economic Development, the Ministry of Commerce will do its best to stabilize the fundamentals of foreign trade while preventing and controlling the outbreak. The focus will be as follows:

First, we will further enrich our policy toolbox, with focus on promoting export tax rebates, trade financing, export credit insurance, and trade facilitation.

Second, we will further improve arrangements for the international market. We will implement different policies for key markets along the Belt and Road to facilitate trade.

Third, we will take more targeted measures to support enterprises. We will summarize and promote good methods and experience in the resumption of work and production and in stabilizing the supply chain, and provide legal aids to minimize the loss of enterprises.

Fourth, we will support the rapid growth of new foreign trade types of businesses including cross-border e-commerce and marketing purchase to speed up building international marketing network.

Fifth, we will deepen opening-up to expand imports. We will ensure we are fully prepared to host the third China International Import Expo (CIIE) and build it as an innovative model for promoting imports.

Sixth, we will strengthen communications and coordination with our trade partners and call on WTO members to lift unnecessary restrictions as soon as possible to create a favorable international trade environment and work together to maintain the stable and sound development of the global supply chain.

Next, we will follow the decisions and arrangements made by the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, strengthen our confidence, and work hard to resolutely win the battle against the outbreak. We will spare no efforts to achieve the goal of ensuring steady and qualitative progress of foreign trade for the year, promote high-quality growth of trade and make positive contributions to the building of a moderately well-off society in an all-round way. Thank you.

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