On February 18, the Ministry of Commerce printed and issued the Circular on Responding to Novel Coronavirus Pneumonia, Stabilizing Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment and Promoting Consumption (hereinafter referred to as the circular) . The circular pointed out that support should be given to the development of new business forms and models of foreign trade, support with export credit insurance should be beefed up, trade restriction from other countries should be actively addressed, innovative development of trade in services should be deepened, and enterprises should be encouraged to make good use of preferential policies of free trade agreements. On February 21, the Ministry of Commerce held an online policy briefing on stabilizing foreign trade and foreign investment and promoting consumption. At the briefing, Mr. Chu Shijia, Director of the Comprehensive Department of the Ministry of Commerce, and Mr. Li Xingqian, Director of the Department of Foreign Trade, introduced relevant policies and measures taken by the Ministry of Commerce on responding to the novel coronavirus pneumonia, stabilizing foreign trade and foreign investment, and promoting consumption.
In this briefing, journalists have raised some questions that concern us most, such as: What are MOFCOM’s supportive measures for the new business forms and models? Will the Canton Fair be postponed or canceled this spring? And so on. In response, answers from the Ministry of Commerce are as follows:
New business forms and models, such as online services, have become popular during the outbreak. What are MOFCOM’s supportive measures for them?
——Xinhua News Agency
Despite the outbreak of COVID-19, some new business forms and models have bucked the trend, satisfying people’s demand and breaking new grounds for high-quality economic development.
In terms of consumption, the prevalent online shopping continued to boom. Empowered by new technologies such as 5G, artificial intelligence, big data and blockchains, new forms like online education, online healthcare and online working have enjoyed rapid growth, and new models including unmanned retail, contactless delivery and standardized fresh food packages have been burgeoning. Some businesses shared their employees to mediate insufficient labor, so as to meet consumers’ demand.
As for foreign trade, cross-border e-commerce, market procurement, foreign trade integrated services and other new forms have gained steady momentum. During the epidemic, some businesses have been sharing logistical information and overseas warehouses to lower their operation costs and facilitate both import and export. Some companies have turned from mass producers into makers of customizable and flexible products that are “small yet delicate”, a way to raise their value-added export.
Regarding foreign investment, online negotiation, video bidding and online signing have been adopted in some places, making face-to-face communications screen-to-screen. Certain local governments have been working closer with chambers of commerce and associations home and abroad to attract foreign investment through such new means as entrusted investment and investment consulting.
The newly released Notice also includes supportive measures for new business forms and models, the main aim of which is to tap into the potential of China’s enormous market and cultivate new economic drivers. We will follow the trends of new business forms and models closely and polish our policies to better stabilize foreign trade and foreign investment while stimulating consumption. Thank you!
—— Chu Shijia
Some countries have imposed entry restrictions on Chinese citizens or people who have visited China. How could that affect the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)? Could that elongate project timelines on a large scale?
After the virus outbreak, MOFCOM has been following the BRI projects closely. For now, they are generally stable without massive delays. To reduce the impact of the epidemic and ensure the implementation of the BRI projects, we have adopted multiple measures:
First, guard against the export of epidemics. The relevant enterprises are required to inspect the dispatched personnel carefully, strictly implement the zero-reporting system, reduce personnel rotation and postpone posting to minimize the risk.
Second, establish a rapid response mechanism. Let the chambers of commerce (associations) of overseas Chinese-funded enterprises play their part, set up a rapid response mechanism for overseas epidemic, extensively collect problems encountered by enterprises, and help them respond promptly.
Third, strengthen bilateral coordination. Stepping up communication with relevant government departments of the host nations to provide convenience for the entry of workers and equipment necessary for bilateral projects.
Fourth, serve the enterprises well. Coordinating intermediary agencies to provide legal and other consulting services to project implementation entities, enabling the platforms for overseas enterprises and overseas investment liaison services, strengthening operational monitoring, risk alerting, response guidance and service assurances.
In the Notice just issued, we have introduced practical measures to support the development of the BRI, which is to better promote the BRI projects and jointly contribute to its high-quality development. Thank you!
As an important indicator of China’ s foreign trade, will the Canton Fair be postponed or canceled this spring?
——South China Morning Post
The preparations for the 127th Canton Fair are well underway as planned. Thank you.
Source: Ministry of Commerce of the People's Republic of China