Gao Feng: Members of the press, good afternoon. Welcome to the Regular Press Conference of MOFCOM. I do not have announcements to make today and would like to take your questions. The floor is open.
National Business Daily: Recently, MOFCOM and other five departments jointly printed and issued the notice on further expanding the pilot for cross-border e-commerce retail imports, extending the trial to all cities hosting free trade zones, comprehensive pilot zones for cross-border e-commerce, comprehensive bonded areas, demonstration zones for innovation promotion through import trade and bonded logistics centers. What is the consideration behind the expansion? What role will this play in the building of the new development paradigm of dual circulation?
Gao Feng: The CPC Central Committee and the State Council attach great importance to the development of cross-border e-commerce, among other new business types and models. Since the introduction of the pilot for cross-border e-commerce retail import in November 2018, related departments and localities have explored actively and continuously improved the policy system to balance development against regulation. In 2020, China’s cross-border e-commerce retail imports exceeded RMB 100 billion. In the meantime, as the risk management and regulation system improves gradually, mid- and post-operational oversight is more effective. Conditions are ripe for replication and roll-out on a larger scale.
At present, China’s overall consumer demand, especially in the central and western regions and Tier3 and 4 cities is rising continuously, with a strong appetite for quality imports. Most consumers prefer to buy global from home.
By expanding the pilot, we aim to better meet people’s aspirations for a good life and promote the development of cross-border e-commerce imports. For example, related business will be allowed in covered cities so long as customs regulatory requirements are met. It will be easier for companies to re-position their business as needed more flexibly, for consumers to buy overseas products and for the market to play a decisive role in resources allocation. At the same time, mid- and post-operational oversight will be strengthened to deepen the synergy of effective market and able government.
For the next steps, MOFCOM will work in concert with related departments to supervise the enforcement of policy requirements by the pilot cities and promote the regulated, healthy and sustained development of cross-border e-commerce retail import. By encouraging more quality imports, we aim to further enrich domestic market supply and forge a dynamic equilibrium where demand drives supply and supply creates demand, so as to accelerate the building of the new development paradigm with domestic circulation as the mainstay and domestic and international circulations reinforcing each other. Thank you.
Phoenix Satellite TV: We have noted that the Biden administration has told Beijing that it will go ahead with the Trump era’s sanctions on Iranian oil. What is China’s response? If the sanctions become effective, will the Measures for Blocking Improper Extraterritorial Application of Foreign Laws and Measures come into play?
Gao Feng: We have noted related media coverage. Regarding the so-called US telling China as referenced in the report, so far I have not received information in this regard.
I want to emphasize that the JCPOA is a multilateral agreement ratified by the UN Security Council and should get full and effective implementation. China pursues an independent and self-determined foreign policy and abides by the basic norms governing international relations of mutual respect for sovereignty, non-interference into each other’s internal affairs, and equality and mutual benefit. China is firmly against the US practice of invoking domestic law and imposing unilateral sanctions on other countries and its so-called long arm jurisdiction. China will continue to work tirelessly to preserve the JCPOA with a just, objective and responsible approach. At the same time, China will firmly safeguard normal China-Iran economic and trade cooperation and its legitimate and lawful rights and interests.
If the extraterrestrial application of related foreign laws and measures violates the international law and the basic norms governing international relations and damages the lawful rights and interests of Chinese citizens, legal persons, or other organizations, China will conduct related work in accordance with the reality and related law to steadfastly safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests. Thank you.
CNR: We have noted that UNCTAD recently forecast that China will lead the world’s GDP growth in 2021. In terms of trade, what challenges do you see for trade growth this year? What measures will MOFCOM take accordingly?
Gao Feng: Currently, Covid-19 remains the biggest uncertainty facing China’s trade development. As the longterm structural contradictions in the world economy persist, the foundation for recovery is fragile. From the host of researches we have conducted of late, trade companies still face some common difficulties and challenges, such as unsmooth cross-border logistics, surging raw material prices, currency volatility and labor shortage in certain areas.
MOFCOM will continue to work with the localities and related departments to enforce existing policy measures and ensure policy continuity and stability. In view of the common issues and acute difficulties facing trade companies, we will strengthen services for them and improve the trade policy toolbox with emphasis on unblocking international logistics and trade companies’ capability to manage currency risks, so as to further stabilize market entities, expectations and the scale. Thank you.
CGTN: We know that China and the European Union had completed the negotiations on the investment agreement at the end of last year. At that time, China said that the two sides would translate and review the text afterwards. What about the progress? We know that the European Parliament recently decided to cancel a meeting to discuss the investment agreement because of China’s sanctions on EU individuals and entities. What is China's response to this? Will such a move affect the signing of this agreement in the end?
Gao Feng: At present, the agreement is going through the necessary legal scrubbing by the negotiators of China and EU. The investment agreement between China and EU is in the interests of both sides and benefits China, EU and the world. Thank you.
CNBC: Will the China-U.S. High-level Strategic Dialogue last week have adverse effects on or bring favorable development opportunities for foreign-invested enterprises in China?
Gao Feng: No matter how the external environment changes, China's basic national policy of opening to the outside world remains unchanged, and its door of opening to the outside world will open still wider. We will, as always, welcome investors from all over the world to invest in China, and continue to work hard to create a business environment that is based on market principles, governed by law and up to international standards, so as to provide more facilitation to the development of foreign-invested enterprises in China. Thank you.
21st Century Business Herald: At the China-U.S. High-level Strategic Dialogue held in Anchorage, what issues were discussed and what achievements were made by China and the United States in terms of economy and trade?
Gao Feng: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China has released relevant information about the China-U.S. High-level Strategic Dialogue held last week. I have no further information to share at the moment. Thank you.
Bloomberg: Recently, due to issues related to Xinjiang cotton, some businesses, including the Taobao stores of H&M and Nike, have been shut down. Has the Ministry of Commerce issued any notice to relevant enterprises? Do you know about this? What is your comment on this?
Gao Feng: The so-called "forced labor" in Xinjiang, China, is completely non-existent and imaginary, and the spotless white Xinjiang cotton brooks no smearing. We oppose any external forces interfering in Xinjiang-related matters and China's internal affairs. We also oppose sanctions imposed on Chinese entities and individuals based on lies and false information, and on the pretext of so-called human rights issues in Xinjiang. The Chinese government always welcomes and supports the normal business operations of transnational corporations in China and their efforts to build industrial and supply chains. With regard to the so-called business decisions made by some companies based on erroneous information, Chinese consumers have responded with concrete actions. It is hoped that those companies will respect the law of the market, rectify their wrong actions and avoid politicizing business issues. Meanwhile, foreign companies are welcome to come and visit Xinjiang themselves, and we stand ready to provide support for companies from all countries to trade and invest in Xinjiang. Thank you.
South China Morning Post, Hong Kong: After the China-U.S. High-level Strategic Dialogue, does the Ministry of Commerce have similar plans to hold economic and trade dialogues with relevant U.S. departments?
Gao Feng: I have no further information to share with you on this at the moment. We will keep you informed on any further update. Thank you.
China Media Group: We have noticed that the U.S. Department of Commerce served subpoenas on multiple Chinese companies that provide information and communications technology and services (ICTS) in the United States for "security review". How will the Ministry of Commerce protect the legitimate rights and interests of relevant Chinese ICT companies? How will we respond as the United States continues to suppress Chinese technology companies?
Gao Feng: China has pointed out many times that the prosperity of global digital economy depends on an open, efficient and reliable information and communication supply chain. We oppose the generalization of the national security concept by the U.S., which interferes with the normal operation of Chinese information and communication companies. The U.S. side ignores the basic rules of international trade and economy, disrupts the normal market order and threatens the security and stability of the global information and communication industrial chain and supply chain.
We have noticed that, for some time, the U.S. semiconductor industry has repeatedly expressed great concern to the US government, worrying that the relevant administrative orders will have a strong impact on the development of information and communication industries in China and the U.S. We hope that the U.S. will take the voices of the industry into consideration, respect market rules, treat Chinese enterprises rationally, objectively and fairly, and avoid politicizing supply chain security issues. China has the determination and ability to resolutely safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies. Thank you.
China News Service: Recently, global food prices have generally increased. Will this increase the price pressure on domestic food supply? What measures will be taken by the Ministry of Commerce to keep the domestic food market stable?
Gao Feng: I would like to explain it from two perspectives. First, food price. The increase of food price since 2020 is the result of many factors. For the international market, the spread of COVID-19 around the world, coupled with desert locusts, drought in Southeast Asia and other factors, has caused international food prices to fluctuate more wildly. The world grains price index has risen for nine consecutive months since June last year. For the domestic market, with the rapid recovery of domestic pig production, the demand for corn and soybean increased much in the short term. Their rising prices cause the price of other food varieties to increase. In addition, the market has a strong expectation of future food price increases, resulting in hoarding by grain producers and farmers, which also supports rising food prices.
At present, the overall food supply in China is ample. In terms of overall production capacity, China has experienced bumper harvest many years in a row, and the total grain output has been above 1.3 trillion jin for six consecutive years. In per capita terms, the per capita share of grain in China is over 470 kilograms, much higher than the international food security line of 400 kilograms. China also has ample food stock. Wheat, rice and other grains can sustain one year’s consumption. Overall, China is well positioned to secure adequate food supply and steady operation of the domestic food market. The conditions for sharp rises in grain prices are not sufficient.
The prices of major edible agricultural products in China has been declining since the Spring Festival this year. According to MOFCOM monitoring, last week (March 15th and 21st), the national edible agricultural products market index was down by 0.9% from the previous week, down by 9.6% in the past five weeks, down by 5.6% from the beginning of the year, and down by 2.7% year on year. In breakdown, the price of rice and flour was slightly lower than the previous week, remaining at the same level as the beginning of the year. The wholesale price of port and vegetables were down by 2.3% and 1.5% from the previous week, and down by 19.3% and 9.2% from the beginning of the year. Currently, the production of major agricultural products remain stable. Hog production is recovering. The supply of chicken, egg, and vegetables are also picking up as it gets warmer. On the whole, the prices of edible agricultural products are unlikely to rise sharply.
MOFCOM will continue to step up market monitoring and closely follow the supply, demand and price changes of rice, flour, cooking oil, meat, egg, and vegetables. We will work with related authorities to release central reserves to increase market supply when needed. We will also guide local commerce departments to ensure steady supply and stable prices, so that the domestic agricultural market remains stable. Thank you.
Bloomberg: When will MOFCOM make the final decision on the tariff on Australian wines?
Gao Feng: We’ve answered this question in the past press conferences. Thank you.
Gao Feng: Any more questions? If not, this is the end of today’s press conference. Thank you.
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