As China recently tightened its regulation on imported cold-chain foods, some businesses say customs clearance has slowed down and ports have become clogged. Is this going to impact on people's lives and on the import of agricultural products? Thank you.
Thanks for your question. China's policy is to expand imports, and increasing the trade in agricultural products has also been a major part of the opening up process. In recent years, expanded imports of foods and agricultural products have played an active role in meeting people's higher demands for a better life and the associated consumption upgrade. We welcome and are open to receive all quality and safe agricultural products from around the world.
China's imports of agricultural products were valued at US$149.85 billion in 2019, a year-on-year gain of 9.3%, and 12.1 percentage points higher than the overall level of imports. From January to May this year, imports of agricultural products totaled US$65.5 billion, up 9% year-on-year, and 17 percentage points higher than the increase in overall national imports. The proportion this occupies in overall imports has also increased from 7.2% to 8.6% compared to last year. The rapid growth momentum continued in June. Due to the impact of African swine fever, there was a gap between supply and demand in pork. The Ministry of Commerce and other related departments have been working on diversifying import sources and greatly increased meat imports to meet domestic market demand. With people's lives improving, there is also higher demand for quality and distinctive agricultural products. Expanded imports of aquatic products, fruits and vegetables are enriching the Chinese dinner table.
In light of the recent COVID-19 cluster outbreaks in Beijing and in consideration of people's health and safety, related departments have, under WTO regulations, strengthened the novel coronavirus risk monitoring of cold-chain foods. What we want to emphasize is that strengthening regulation and facilitating customs clearance do not contradict each other. With tightened supervision, we need to increase efficiency for the convenience of every business. We have noticed that a few ports have become clogged due to increased imports of food and agricultural products and as well as mass arrivals of cold-chain foods. We are coordinating with related departments to increase trade facilitation, relieve the operational pressures of foreign trade businesses, and lower the impact of COVID-19 on foreign trade while strengthening safety management of imported cold-chain foods. Thank you.