The outbreak in Beijing's Xinfadi reveals there are still some defects and problems in the construction and operation of agricultural product markets in our country. What, in your opinion, are the more prominent problems in this regard? Does the Ministry of Commerce have any measures ready to address the concerns and offer a safer environment for customers? Thank you.
Thank you for your questions. China gradually developed its agricultural product markets during the ongoing process of reform and opening up. There are now 44,000 agricultural product markets across the country, including nearly 40,000 markets for farmers and peddlers, and over 4,100 wholesale ones. More than 1,300 wholesale markets have an annual transaction value of over 100 million yuan. In 2019, the wholesale markets together recorded a transaction value of 5.7 trillion yuan, and a transactional volume of 970 million tons of products. There are nearly 2.4 million tenants in these markets employing nearly 7 million people. About 70% of agricultural products are now distributed through wholesale markets, and agricultural product markets are still the main channel for circulating agricultural products.
Agricultural product markets in various localities have continued opening since the outbreak of COVID-19, with the wholesale entities pooling and adjusting the supply of agricultural products, and the retail ones offering convenient consumer services. They have made outstanding contributions to ensuring market supply and stabilizing prices. Chinese agricultural product markets have made great progress over 40 years of development. Since 2006, the Ministry of Commerce, together with the Ministry of Finance and other government departments, has supported and guided them in constructing and improving quasi-public welfare facilities such as electronic settlement, inspection and testing, security monitoring and waste disposal, as well as in infrastructure construction such as trading halls and sheds, and cold chains. Government departments including the National Development and Reform Commission have also offered corresponding support to the wholesale markets. Local governments have actively upgraded their agricultural product markets, and explored the construction of smart vegetable markets and supermarket-like facilities, so as to create a good environment for consumers.
It has long been the case that those who invest in agricultural product markets are responsible for their management and operation, and enjoy the benefits derived from this. Now, there are still problems such as unreasonable planning and layout, unclear public welfare attributes, insufficient investment in construction, so that the infrastructure still need further improvement. There is still quite a gap with the requirements for their operation at the current stage of economic and social development and the aspirations of the people to live a better life. In regard to the next step, the Ministry of Commerce will work with relevant government departments to further support the agricultural product market sector, improve both their hardware and software, and vigorously promote legislation for their safe operation, clarify their public welfare status, standardize their construction, operation and management systems, in a bid to create a better environment for businesses and consumers in urban and rural areas. Thank you.