SCIO briefing on measures to stabilize foreign trade

The Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism of the State Council held a press conference in Beijing on April 10 to brief the media on the measures to stabilize foreign trade. April 12, 2020

China Daily:

How is the development of China's processing trade proceeding in different regions? In terms of guiding its coordinated regional development, will there be any other preferential policies for the central and western regions? Thank you.

Li Xingqian:

Thank you for your question. The CPC Central Committee and the State Council attach great importance to guiding the graduated transfer of the processing trade to the central and western regions. Since the beginning of this year, the Ministry of Commerce, together with relevant departments and local authorities, has supported these regions, as well as northeast, to undertake more of the processing trade in order to promote coordinated regional development. Significant progress has been made. In 2019, the overall import and export performance in the processing trade fell 9.1% year-on-year, while that in the central region increased by 3.2%, and the western region by 3.5%. Central and western provinces such as Sichuan, Anhui, Jiangxi, and Shaanxi, and Chongqing municipality all achieved growth in their foreign trade, with the increase mainly coming from processing trade.

In the next step, we will take various measures to support the central, western and northeastern regions to further develop processing trade and promote coordinated regional development among them. First, together with the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security and the General Administration of Customs, we will improve the construction of 44 key cities to achieve the graduated transfer of processing trade and three demonstration cities to undertake the transfer of processing trade so that they can give full play to their leading role, advancing overall capacity to undertake the processing trade in all three regions. Second, we will utilize the platforms such as China Processing Trade Products Fair, set up exhibition halls promoting this graduated transfer, organize targeted matchmaking and exchange activities, and seek other steps to encourage the three designated regions to promote the transfer environment. We will establish a long-term mechanism to promote industrial matching. Third, we will issue and implement differentiated policies. We will give preferential fiscal, land and financial policies to all three regions to enhance their ability to undertake processing trade transfer. Thank you.

Economic Daily:

We know that in recent years, China's agricultural product imports have grown rapidly, playing a very important role in meeting domestic demand. However, as the pandemic spread across the world, how can we continue to stabilize the market by importing agricultural products? Thank you.

Ren Hongbin:

In recent years, the Chinese government has attached great importance to the expansion of imports, and the inward flow of agricultural products and foods have increased continuously to meet growing consumer demand. In the past two years, according to statistics of the Chinese Customs, the import volume of agricultural products was valued at 130 billion to 150 billion yuan, while the export volume reached 75 billion to 80 billion yuan, making a total trade of between 210 billion to 230 billion yuan. The main imported products are soybeans, meat and dairy products, which account for 45% of all incoming agricultural products. From January to February this year, imports of agricultural products maintained steady growth, with the volume reaching 23.45 billion yuan, an increase of 5.1% year-on-year. The import of soybean increased by 14.2%, meat by 120%, and dairy products imports maintained the same level with the previous year. Overall, the supply and demand of bulk agricultural products such as grain, soybean, vegetable oil, meat, sugar, cotton, etc. are balanced and stocks are relatively abundant. Our three major staple food grains achieved self-sufficiency with full stocks. The imported grains only account for about 2% of our domestic consumption. The main reason of importing agricultural products and food is to diversify varieties. We just mentioned that due to the pandemic, some countries have restricted the export of grain. Comprehensively speaking, it will exert little effect on our country. Take the example of vegetable oil, the current supply and demand of it across the world are balanced. Affected by COVID-19, domestic demand of the vegetable oil has declined and our stocks are also very sufficient, which can basically meet the needs of domestic consumption.

In the past two years, as a result of an epidemic of African swine fever, there has been a gap in domestic pork supply and demand. The Ministry of Commerce, together with relevant departments, actively diversified import sources, so that meat imports achieved a substantial increase. Last year, China's total meat imports reached 4.82 million tons, an increase of 58% year-on-year, of which the volume of pork imports were nearly 2 million tons, an increase of 67% year-on-year. It is clear that the import of pork contributes to the stabilization of the domestic market and satisfies the consumption needs of the people.

At present, the supply of agricultural products in the international market is relatively stable, but the pandemic certainly has influenced the international logistics related to agricultural products to some degree. The Ministry of Commerce will pay close attention to the supply and demand trends of global agricultural products and the global pandemic situation. By strengthening international cooperation in combating the pandemic, unblock the global logistics chain, and promote the agricultural products trade, we will take multiple measures to diversify agricultural product imports, stabilize market supply, and bring into play its important role in maintaining supply and stabilizing prices in the domestic market. Thank you.

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